Miller says OTAs are an important step towards preparing for football and getting to know new coaches

Star linebacker hoping the work he puts in during the offseason can result in another All-Pro season.


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Things are a little different for Von Miller than they were last year.

At this time in 2016, the talented pass rusher was on a whirlwind tour of the globe celebrating a world championship and sporting the new moniker “Super Bowl 50 MVP.” Miller was also in the middle of a contract dispute with the Broncos that would eventually earn him a new 6-year $114.5 million contract, making him the highest paid defensive player in the history of pro football.

“Last year I didn’t really have a lot of time to do anything,” Miller said. “I was at ‘Dancing with the Stars’ at this time. I was probably 230-pounds.”

That was last offseason. Things were different for Miller then. They were different for the Broncos, too. Back then, it seemed like Gary Kubiak, Wade Phillips, and the rest of Denver’s Super Bowl champion coaching staff would be working at 13655 Broncos Parkway until the end of time.

Things changed.

Kubiak retired due to health concerns after a disappointing 9-7 season. Phillips, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, and all but a handful of other coaches left with him.

Now, players like Miller are being forced to adjust to a new reality with a whole new collection of bosses.

Of course, not everything is totally different. Joe Woods, the Broncos’ new defensive coordinator, spent the Kubiak era coaching Denver’s renowned secondary. He’s expected to incorporate many of Phillips’ trademarks into the Broncos’ new defensive scheme.

“Joe is a great coach,” Miller said. “Phillips will go down as one of the best defensive coordinators to ever coach the game. Joe is a great coach as well. He’s not just going to totally abandon what we did last year and what we did with coach Phillips. Joe Woods is a great coach. His vision and his beliefs, that is what we’re going to run behind.”

However, Miller and others will still have to adjust. That’s something the dynamic pass rusher must be accustomed to by now. New boss Vance Joseph is the third head coach Miller has had since coming into the NFL just six years ago. Woods will be his fourth defensive coordinator.

The adjustment is a careful process. These voluntary offseason workouts, which the Broncos began Monday and continued Tuesday, help that process along.

Last season, Miller didn’t have the opportunity to participate in these early OTA’s with his team. He was still waiting on that contract. This year, he said he’s relishing the opportunity to work with both his teammates and the Broncos’ well-respected strength and conditioning staff.

“They are extremely important. I felt last year like I was missing them, I was like, ‘You need OTAs,'” Miller said. “You can train on your own, but the National Football League is so competitive. The more time that you can get to perfect your craft with your teammates, you need that to get over the hump, you need to be out here with your guys and you need to gel with your guys. You need to be working out here in the altitude and here at the facility. I need this time here in OTAs to be a better player.”

Additionally, these workouts provide Miller and other players the chance to get to know their new coaches—including Joseph. However, Miller said he’d already gotten the chance to get accustomed to his new head coach and he likes what he’s heard.

“I love him,” Miller said. “He’s going to be a great coach for us. He’s a great leader. He connects well with all the guys that we have in the locker room. You know, we have a unique locker room so that takes a unique coach to really make that connection and he’s definitely done it from day one.”

The Broncos will continue their offseason conditioning on Thursday then carry it into next week before the team’s attention shifts entirely to the NFL Draft in Philadelphia at the end of the month.