Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe might have suffered the scariest injury of the preseason. He also might be the most inspirational story of the preseason, considering that he is expected to play in the season opener in 13 days.
Wolfe was taken via ambulance to a Seattle hospital when he was hit high and low during a preseason game against the Seahawks. The Associated Press reported that Wolfe's teammates feared the worst while he was lying on the field after his head and neck were compressed by the hit.
While Wolfe never lost feeling in his limbs, he was motionless for five minutes.
Tests were negative and he was allowed to fly home with his teammates after the game.
"Yeah, they clapped for me when I got on the plane," Wolfe said. "I got yelled at for not giving the thumbs-up when I was on the stretcher."
At that time, though, Wolfe wasn't sure he was OK. He said the numbness in his arms and legs didn't start to dissipate until he was on his way to the hospital.
"I could move everything the whole time, it was just everything felt kind of fuzzy," he said. "Obviously, when you shock your system like that, it has to kind of reboot. As of now, everything is back to normal. As soon as the pain goes away, I'll be all right. I've got full motion back."
The Broncos are taking it slow with Wolfe. They don't want to rush his recovery, so he will be held out of the next two preseason games. He still has soreness in the right side of his neck and will have to be cleared via an MRI before he can play again.
That said, Wolfe can't wait to again practice, something most players dread.
"It's amazing how much you don't like to practice until you can't do it anymore," Wolfe said. "And it's real humbling whenever you can't really feel your extremities for a while. I get a little emotional about it because this is what I love to do and I couldn't imagine myself doing anything but this game."
-- Bill Bradley, contributing editor