ENGLEWOOD, Colo—In a season that will see him enter his fifth year as a professional linebacker with the Denver Broncos, Von Miller may be entering the prime of his career—a career that has seen him amass 56 starts in as many games, as well as 49 sacks, 180 tackles, 13 forced fumbles and 1 interception (which he returned for a score). That's saying something.
Miller, the former Texas A&M standout who was known after the 2011 draft for being involved a lawsuit against the NFL during the lockout that year, produced at a high level as a rookie, without the benefit of an offseason program.
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On day one of training camp, the buzz was euphoric in singing Miller’s praises. In the words of KUSA-Channel 9 sports anchor Rod Mackey (the sideline reporter for Broncos preseason broadcasts), Miller “won the award for most 'fired-up' about camp.”
Miller was dominant in one-on-one drills, getting the best of tackle Chris Clark. Miller was also seen joyfully skipping and dancing on his way to the practice field. He is truly showing the rookies how to be a pro and enjoy playing football.
After practice had concluded, the three-time Pro Bowler gave his thoughts on how he balances enjoying practice, while focusing simultaneously.
“It's a good mixture,” Miller said. “Great teams know how to have fun and be serious, and flip that switch instantly. It was great. We had a little bit of fun. We got serious today but it was great.”
With many changes to the defense in the offseason, including the hiring of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and defensive line coach Bill Kollar, many analysts and fans alike have wondered what the defense will be like in 2015. Miller talked about the defense's potential.
“It's hard to think about where we're going,” he said. “We're on day one of training camp. There's so much work we have to do. It was great. It was as good as a first day can go.”
Miller also went one-on-one in practice sessions Friday against Max Garcia, a 6-foot-5 305-pound rookie offensive lineman out of Florida, whom the Broncos selected No. 133 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft this past spring. Miller confirmed the neophyte is a formidable opponent.
“I wanted to get in there and get right where I was tired,” Miller said. “Plus, Max, I like going up against good guys. Max is going to do a lot of great stuff for us. I go out there and show him stuff. At the same time [when] I go out, I want to be able to beat him. I feel like Max is coming along. He's looking really good all the way from OTA's to now. I think the sky is the limit for him, and I feel good.”
Perhaps this version of Von Miller is a team leader, one who teammates can rely upon for advice and who will expect the best of himself, before he chastises anyone else. It seems that head coach Gary Kubiak has had a tremendous influence on the Broncos. Intensity on the grid-iron will only become more common the longer Kubiak’s around.
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