Miller's production has slipped after injury

After 11 games, Denver rookie linebacker Von Miller was on pace to break the NFL rookie sack record.

Then, he suffered a serious thumb injury. Miller’s production has slowed since. Miller was injured Nov. 27 at San Diego. He had his best game of the season that day. He had added a sack to increase his total to 10.5 sacks. He had 10 tackles in the game.

He missed the following week’s game at Minnesota, but he had played the past three games with a cast on his right hand. Miller has one sack and seven tackles in the past three games.

“It’s that big cast on his thumb,” said Denver coach John Fox on Monday when asked in Denver about Miller’s slip in production. “It’s hard to play this game with both hands let alone just one. It’s definitely a factor. A different type of cast isn’t going to let him use his hand any differently because we still have to immobilize the thumb. We’ll make due. He’ll get better, and so will we.”

Miller, the No. 2 overall draft pick, needs three sacks Sunday at Kansas City to tie Jevon Kearse’s rookie record of 14.5 sacks, set in 1998. San Francisco’s Aldon Smith, the No. 7 overall draft pick, has 14 sacks. He has 6.5 sacks since Miller’s injury.

It will be interesting to see who wins the NFL defensive rookie of the year award. Miller has been on the field more than Smith and has he had a bigger impact throughout the year, but Smith’s sacks numbers may be difficult to deny even though Miller has 29 more tackles than Smith.

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