The Denver Broncos announced Friday that defensive end Derek Wolfe has been suspended four games for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
Here’s everything you need to know.
1. He Wasn’t Aware He Took a Banned Substance
Following the announcement of his suspension, Wolfe, 25, issued an apology:
During the offseason I took a medication which is on the banned substance list. The medication is not a substance which would enhance my on-field performance in any way and I genuinely was unaware that it was prohibited, but players are responsible for what is in their bodies.
I will certainly exercise far greater caution in the future and will seek advice relating to the permissibility of any and all medications.
2. He Will Miss Games Against the Ravens, Chiefs, Lions and Vikings
Wolfe will be allowed to participate during training camp and preseason games, but his suspension will go into effect on September 5 when rosters have to be trimmed to 53 players.
He can return following the Week 4 game against the Minnesota Vikings on October 4.
3. He Has Started 43 Games in 3 Seasons With the Broncos
A second-round pick from the University of Cincinnati in 2012, Wolfe was outstanding as a rookie, starting all 16 games and tallying six sacks, which was third-most on the team.
His sophomore season didn’t go nearly as well, though. After a difficult start to the season that was plagued by a spinal cord injury and bouts with food poisoning, he was beginning to again look like himself, recording sacks in Weeks 8, 10 and 11. However, after suffering a frightening seizure, which was later determined to be related to his spinal cord injury, his missed the final five games of the season, as well as the team’s run to the Super Bowl.
Wolfe returned to health last season, once again starting all 16 games. While his numbers (1.5 sacks, 35 total tackles) don’t jump off the page, he was especially dominant against the running game. As such, he’ll be missed during this suspension when the Broncos face Justin Forsett, Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson.
4. Malik Jackson and Vance Walker Will Be Relied Upon in his Absence
While Wolfe is sidelined, the play of Malike Jackson will be crucial. The 25-year-old, who has spent three seasons with the Broncos, played more snaps than Wolfe last year and figures to play a big role in new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense.
Vance Walker, a free-agent signing from the Kansas City Chiefs in the offseason, will also get a major uptick in snaps, while Antonio Smith, who has had success previously in Phillips’ defense, should also help fill the void.
5. He Has 1 Year Left on his Contract
Still playing on his rookie contract, Wolfe has a base salary of about $1.1 million in 2015.