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Published on 09/30/2011 at Fri Sep 30 08:00.
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Hunter then (2007) and now (2010). (Courtesy of Getty Images)

Two words can be used to describe Denver Broncos defensive end Jason Hunter: play maker.

During his four-year collegiate career at Appalachian State, Hunter recorded 186 tackles (110 solo), 38.5 tackles for loss, 24 sacks, nine passes defened, five forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and one interception, scoring three times.

After running a relatively slow forty yard dash (4.88 seconds) at the 2006 NFL Scouting Combine, Hunter went undrafted.  The Green Bay Packers then signed Hunter as a rookie free agent.

During his first two seasons in Green Bay, Hunter saw limited roles on defense and contributed on special teams.  In 2008, Hunter’s playing time expanded as he recorded 2.0 sacks as defensive end and returned a Kyle Orton fumble fifty-five yards for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears in week eleven of the season.

Following the 2008 season, Hunter re-signed with the Packers as a restricted free agent, only to be waived two months later.  Two days after being released by the Packers, Hunter signed with the Detroit Lions and ultimately won a starting gig on defense.

Playing fourteen games (starting nine) in 2009, Hunter recorded 34 tackles, five sacks and three passes defened.  Despite a productive first season, Detroit released Hunter prior to the start of the 2010 season.

The Broncos signed Hunter after his stint with Detroit and moved him to outside linebacker to better fit their 3-4 defensive scheme.  Having played defensive end his entire life, Hunter adjusted to the position change extremely well and turned in career highs for the Broncos in tackles (61), starts (12), interceptions (1) and forced fumbles (1).

In week nine against the Kansas City Chiefs last season, Hunter scooped up a fumble and returned it seventy-five yards for a score.  The impressive play was nothing new to Hunter, who has a way of always being around the football.

Hunter changed his jersey number from No. 52 to No. 90 during the preseason. (Image courtesy of Gabriel Christus/DenverBroncos)

During training camp, Broncos’ defensive coordinator Dennis Allen and his coaching staff moved Hunter back to defensive end, where he was expected to have a rotational role with starting ends Robert Ayers and Elvis Dumervil entering the season.  With Dumervil missing time due to a shoulder injury however, Hunter has started Denver’s previous two matches against the Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans respectively.

Appearing in all of Denver’s first three games of the season, Hunter has recorded 11 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble.  The sixth year veteran has been making plays for the Broncos defense, helping contain the run and getting after the quarterback on passing downs.

On Sunday, Hunter will return to Green Bay with the Broncos to play the team he entered the league with for the third time in his career (he played the Packers twice in 2009 with Detroit, seeing limited action on special teams).

The game will mark just the third time Denver has played at Lambeau Field and the clubs twenty-sixth match against a defending Super Bowl champion.  The Broncos own a 6-5-1 all-time record against the Packers (including the postseason) and a 15-10 record against defending Super Bowl teams.

Hunter will be aiming to help the Broncos to their first victory against the Packers since 1999 and the franchise’s first ever victory in Wisconsin.  Getting former teammate and current Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the ground would play a large role in the game if Denver is going to be able to pull off an upset.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on Hunter throughout the game.  If Dumervil is able to play, expect Hunter to still see a rotational role at the defensive end position.

  • App Band

    Two former Mountaineers from Appalachian State University will be on opposite sides for this game.  Rookie DJ Smith #51 from App State was drafted by the Packers.  I’m proud of BOTH of them!  Great guys…awesome players!