Broncos' Derek Wolfe on 2016: 'I didn't speak up enough'

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In a world where vanilla is often the flavor of choice for those looking to avoid saying something that ends up going viral, Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe said Tuesday he’s ready to put a little cayenne in the recipe.

“I’ve been around enough great players, I’ve seen how not to do it and how to do it," Wolfe said as the Broncos continued their offseason program. “... Every season is like a life, like a lifespan -- you learn something new. And last season I didn’t do enough. I’ve got to take more of a leadership role."

As Wolfe moves toward his sixth NFL season, he has always been willing to speak his mind -- sometimes in a cover-the-kids'-ears fashion. But as the roster has turned over around him in recent seasons, including DeMarcus Ware’s retirement, Wolfe says he now finds himself in a position to let his thoughts be known even a little more.

In his mind, too many things were left unsaid in 2016 as the Broncos missed the postseason at 9-7.

“I didn’t speak up enough," Wolfe said. “When I saw things, I didn’t say things I should have. I’m not going to let that s--- slide this year."

The Broncos’ defensive line, and particularly the team’s run defense (Denver was 28th in the league last season against the run), was an offseason priority. Nose tackles Domata Peko and Zach Kerr were among the team’s free-agent signings, and the Broncos also used a second-round pick on defensive end DeMarcus Walker.

It's now Wolfe, who is the longest-tenured homegrown player on the Broncos' defensive line, and Peko, in his 12th season, who will provide the yin and yang of leadership styles in the defensive front.

“Derek’s the type of guy that will let you know that you’re doing some stuff wrong and get after you that type of way," Peko said. “But also you should see he’s one of the hardest workers out here. ... I’m the type of guy who tries to lead by example, always doing the right things ... just doing things right and making sure I’m getting the job done."

On Wolfe, Peko added: “He’s a beast out there. I love the way he plays, he has that no B.S. mentality. That’s the kind of guy you want to play next to."

So as the Broncos try to rebound from their first playoff miss since 2010, Wolfe has decided his personal mute button will be used even less this season than it has been in the past. But in his sixth season, he says he will also try to adjust when -- and how -- he delivers those opinions.

“When I see guys not doing the right thing, I’m going to tell them," Wolfe said. “I’m not going to sit back and just let that s--- slide. With me it’s either confrontation, fistfight or not saying anything. I’m learning how not to fight people. Everybody’s different. That’s why coaches have to be so versatile. Everybody’s different.

"Same thing being a leader. Sometimes embarrassing somebody in front of everybody is not the way to do it. You have to take them aside after practice and let them know."