ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With Jamaal Charles barrelling toward the end zone, Broncos left tackle Garett Bolles felt someone kick his left leg, sending a searing jolt through his body and a sense of foreboding into his heart.
Was his rookie season really over already?
Pounding the grass in frustration, the first-round draft pick out of the University of Utah figured he’d torn his Achilles tendon.
Carted off the field, he waved to the crowd.
This was goodbye, he thought.
"I’ve never been hurt before and this was something that was very new to me," Bolles said Thursday after surprising even himself by returning to practice just four days after getting hurt.
His first glimmer of hope came when he was watching the remainder of Denver’s 42-17 victory over Dallas on the TV screen in the trainer’s room. Doctors told him X-rays were negative and his tendons appeared intact.
"I was just wishing I could jump through the TVs and go back out there and play because that’s how I am, I love this game," Bolles said.
On Monday, an MRI confirmed he had a bone bruise and 72 hours later, he was back on the field.
"I didn’t know how fast I was going to heal, but it felt good today," Bolles said . "It was definitely a blessing to be back out here with my brothers."
Bolles said he’s not sure whether he’ll play Sunday when the Broncos (2-0) visit Buffalo (1-1). He said he’ll trust his coaches and the team’s medical staff to make that call.
"We’re not sure if he’s going to play on Sunday but he’s getting better fast," said coach Vance Joseph, who cautioned the big test was how Bolles feels Friday.
Bolles’ return had the locker room abuzz .
"It was great," Von Miller said. "Garett’s a tough guy. We need him on the field. He’s a big-time player for us, big-time piece on the offensive line. So yeah, it’s great to have him back."
Before he proved a quick healer, Bolles showed Miller he was a quick learner.
"He’s doing great," Miller said. "He’s better than a rookie should be right now."
Notes: CB Bradley Roby (ankle) also returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday. … Joseph said that if WR Bennie Fowler (concussion) can’t play against the Bills, WR Jordan Taylor would be active for the first time this season. … Joseph said he’s not worried about K Brandon McManus missing two kicks already: "In the first game he pushed one and Sunday the wind picked up on him. But he’s fine. I’m fine with him."