Difficult goal: Denver D improvement as Wolfe, Talib go down

ENGLEWOOD - They can’t stop the run, their next opponent has the league’s No. 1 offense, and the Denver defense will be without two of its best players who make a combined $21.4 million this year.

The Broncos picked the wrong week to try to break out of their defensive slump.

Defensive end Derek Wolfe will miss the game at New Orleans and then some after he suffered a fractured right elbow Sunday night at Oakland. Officially, Wolfe is listed as week to week, but as a general medical rule, it takes six weeks to heal a break.

“Actually the news was encouraging,’’ said Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak. “We feel like Derek is going to be OK, but we’re still evaluating exactly where he’s at.’’

Encouraging because there was fear Wolfe would need corrective surgery. That won’t be the case.

Aqib Talib, the Broncos’ No. 1 cornerback and arguably the league’s best, flew to California last week to consult with spine specialist Dr. Robert Watkins, who has also rescued the careers of former Denver stars Peyton Manning and John Lynch.

Talib has a singular disc or lumbar problem in his lower back that has forced him to miss the past two games and he will not play this Sunday against the Saints on the artificial surface at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

After the Saints’ game, the Broncos will have a much-needed bye week before returning to play Kansas City on Nov. 27. There is hope Talib can return to play against the Chiefs.

Losing Wolfe, who is drawing $12.43 million this season, and Talib, who was scheduled to make $8.97 million, against the Saints is particularly ill-timed because quarterback Drew Brees directs an offense that leads the NFL with 434.5 total yards and 326.5 passing yards per game.

Brees has six major weapons in receivers Brandin Cooks, Michael Thomas and Willie Snead – who have combined for 125 catches, 1,644 yards and 12 touchdowns – tight end Coby Fleener, and running backs Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower.

The Saints started 0-3 but have won four of their five. The Broncos started 4-0 but have lost three of their last five.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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