ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) – Von Miller wants to forget about last season, not just the way it began with a drug suspension and ended with a torn ACL but also how he experimented with packing on too much muscle.
He’s dropped at least 25 pounds, saying, “a Ferrari isn’t built to carry luggage to and from the airport.”
“You just want to be light, streamlined and that’s just what I’m trying to get to,” said Miller, who’s back in the 240s like he was when he collected 30 sacks in his first two NFL seasons before slipping to five in nine games last year.
“I figured out when I was 280 pounds, 275 pounds, (offensive linemen) are still going to hold you,” Miller said. “So, I might as well be at a weight where I’m comfortable.”
Miller spent his offseason rehabbing both his surgically repaired right knee and his reputation.
He calls his new physique and image byproducts of his desire to put last season in the rearview and regain his status as one of the league’s best players.
“I think it just made me a better person,” Miller said of his rough 2013 season. “Adversity reveals character and I think all the stuff that happened, I handled it well and I’m in a blessed situation to be where I’m at today.”
Miller handed out eyeglasses to underprivileged kids through his Von’s Vision foundation this offseason and spent endless hours at the team’s Dove Valley complex, where those pounds he packed on a year ago melted away.
Although the added muscle in his upper body benefited his bull rush, it also appeared to bog him down, stealing that athletic dip that made him so special coming out of Texas A&M as the second overall draft pick in 2011.
That extra weight might even have played a role when his right knee buckled in a game at Houston in December, relegating him to the sideline at the Super Bowl.
Miller said the weight loss will help him play as he did in 2012, when he set a franchise record with 18 1/2 sacks.
“I feel good where I’m at,” he said.
And even better about who’s with him: former Cowboys star pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware, whom Miller patterned his game after while growing up in Dallas.
“Those two guys if they’re healthy, there’s two beasts coming off the edge that are tough to deal with,” general manager John Elway said.
One thing that made Ware so attractive to the Broncos was the notion he could be the kind of positive influence on Miller that Elvis Dumervil was before bolting to Baltimore last year.
“He’s definitely a mentor and I definitely appreciate having him,” Miller said.
Miller won’t be lining up with Ware in team drills for a few weeks because he’s limited right now to individual workouts and 7-on-7s.
Still, Miller consistently beats the rest of the linebackers in post-practice conditioning runs.
Working hard and staying out of the news this offseason has endeared him to his coaches.
“I don’t have any question that Von will be ready to roll and be at his best this year,” defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said. “I think he’s worked extremely hard with (strength and conditioning coach) Luke Richesson and the staff and `Greek,’ (head trainer Steve Antonopulos) and the trainers. He’s been a real good teammate, working hard with the guys. I have no doubt he’s going to have a special year.”
Neither does Miller, who said, “I want to be the best and that’s my mission.”
Miller, who turned 25 this spring, suggested fans needn’t worry about him slipping up, either.
“I’m definitely different, more mature,” he said. “I’m one of the oldest guys in the linebacker room now. I was talking to Wesley (Woodyard, now with the Tennessee Titans) the other day, and I was like `Bro, I’m one of the oldest guys in here right now,’ and we started laughing. That’s just part of it. You’ve got to grow up.”
NOTES: On the first day of padded practices, SS T.J. Ward had two big hits, on RB Ronnie Hillman and WR Emmanuel Sanders. … DE Derek Wolfe and S John Boyett both left practice with lower back tightness and DE Greg Latta hurt a knee.
– By Arnie Stapleton, AP Sports Writer
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