After consulting with renowned spine surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins near Los Angeles on Monday, Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe was told that while his injured neck would not require surgery, he would need rest for a couple months.
The diagnosis means the Broncos are likely to place Wolfe on season-ending injured reserve. The 3-9 Broncos have just four games remaining this season.
“As much as I’d like to get back out there and keep playing, when a spinal doctor tells you that you can lose use of your right arm if you don’t rest and heal properly, you listen,’’ Wolfe said in a phone call from the Los Angeles airport Monday night with 9NEWS. “I don’t want to lose the use of my right arm. I’m happy because he said I wouldn’t need surgery which would have meant all kinds of crazy things. But he said there’s no way you should play football the next two months.’’
Dr. Watkins is the same spine specialist who extended the careers of former Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and safety John Lynch with successful neck surgeries.
Wolfe was told he has a form of spinal stenosis and multiple sprained joints in his neck area. His neck and right elbow have enough nerve damage to where Wolfe experienced numbness on the right side of his body after engaging in line of scrimmage combat with Oakland Raider guard Gabe Jackson early in a game played November 26.
He still is experiencing numbness in his right hand.
“When it’s a neck, it’s serious,’’ Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said last week as Wolfe was undergoing tests and evaluations. “It’s his life.”
The Broncos’ best all-around defensive end who is not only stout against the run but has 24.0 sacks in six seasons, Wolfe has been pushing through neck and elbow pain the past two seasons.