ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- After weeks of public confidence things would be different, after weeks of working linebacker Von Miller with the team’s starting defense in training camp practices, the Broncos and Miller were finally forced Tuesday to face the stark reality that the two-time Pro Bowler will miss the first six games of the regular season.
"I know what I think of Von Miller, what we think of Von Miller as a person," Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway said. "And so I get back to the same thing, not trying to put the toothpaste back in the toothpaste bottle. It’s moving on from here and hopefully trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again."
Miller can continue to practice with the team in the preseason and play in Saturday’s preseason game against the Rams and/or the preseason finale Aug. 29 against the Cardinals if the Broncos wish. Coach John Fox said the plan is for Miller to play at least some against St. Louis this weekend. But once the Broncos formally begin preparations for the Sept. 5 regular-season opener against the Ravens, Miller cannot participate in any on-field activities as his suspension begins Aug. 31.
The question now will be how, and where, Miller handles the suspension. Although he cannot participate in practices, he could remain in Denver, sit in on meetings with his teammates and work out at the Broncos' facility, and that is the scenario Broncos officials would prefer.
Or he could simply travel elsewhere to escape the local pressures, perhaps California, where his agents -- Athletes First -- are located, and work with a strength and conditioning coach of his choosing there. Either way, Miller will not be eligible to return to practice until the Monday before the Oct. 20 game in Indianapolis.
Miller also can keep his team-issued iPad containing the team’s playbook, and it can be updated by the coaches as the team goes week to week. Asked Tuesday evening if he knew whether Miller would remain in Denver during the suspension, Fox said: "We’ll kind of wait until we start that. We’re still two weeks from that; we’ll cross that bridge when we get there."
In a statement released immediately following the announcement of his suspension, Miller vowed to remain "in peak shape" during his time away and said he would look to contribute "immediately upon my return to the field and [bring] a championship back to the people of Denver."
It is all a long way from Miller announcing on the first day of training camp that he had "done nothing wrong." The distance between a six-game suspension and "nothing wrong" is vast and life-changing.
Miller, with a smile and personality companies looking to pitch a product had already proved they loved, was on the brink of superstardom. An immensely gifted player on the field with 30 sacks in his first two seasons and with a growing roster of endorsement opportunities off it, Miller is now in a personal rebuilding mode.
How he emerges from all of this, how he handles himself and who he surrounds himself with moving forward will have a lot to say about whether he reaches the heights people believe he can or becomes another whatever-happened-to collection of potential and unfortunate circumstances.
Asked earlier Tuesday whether he thought he let the fans down, Miller said: "The media, they can do some crazy stuff to you and paint a different picture. But the fans know me for going out there, laying it all on the field, being a great teammate, entertaining the fans and just being the fun Von. That’s who I am, that’s who I’ve always been, that’s who I’ll continue to be."
There are plenty of people, however, both inside and outside the Broncos' complex who believe Miller might just have to embrace a little more change than that.