ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe returned to work Monday after serving his four-game suspension and declared he was "like a caged animal right now," ready to rejoin the NFL's top-ranked defense.

"It was a long month," the fourth-year pro said. "The first two weeks went by real quick and the last two weeks they were just dragging on. I'm just ready to help the team win."

The Broncos (4-0) have done a pretty good job without him, collecting 18 sacks and 11 takeaways with defensive ends Malik Jackson, Vance Walker and Antonio Smith playing superbly in Wolfe's absence.

It was a good thing Wolfe stayed in shape because D-line coach Bill Kollar put him through quite a workout while the rest of the team was doing its usual shake-out from its 23-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

"Just hitting the sled until you're ready to fall over, just running hoops, working pass rush moves. He made me do a 20-yard sprint. That was fun," Wolfe said. "But he had to make sure I was in shape and ready to go. I'm glad he did it. I'm going to come back in tomorrow (on the players' day off) and do another one."

The Broncos have several days to get a grasp on Wolfe's conditioning and activate him, but he said he's ready to get back in the lineup Sunday at Oakland (2-2).

"I'm ready to go. I trained hard. I mean, I had another offseason," said Wolfe, who participated in training camp and the preseason before being banished from the Broncos facility a month ago. "I'm ready to go."

Coach Gary Kubiak said "my expectations are that he will" be able to play this weekend. "So, it's a big week of practice for him. It's great to have him back."

Unlike in years past, he won't be getting the bulk of the snaps. New defensive coordinator Wade Phillips likes to rotate his linemen and Walker is coming off his best game yet.

"Well, it's the NFL. There's competition every day. It's been like that since I got here," Wolfe said. "There's always competition. That's how you get better is with competition, so like I said I enjoy it. I'm ready to go. I'm over this."

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