Broncos need Miller to return ready to go

DENVER — The folks clustered in the seats in Invesco Field at Mile High on Thursday night saw Von Miller in a Broncos uniform for the last time until October.

And that goes for Miller’s coaches and teammates as well.

The clock officially starts Saturday on Miller’s six-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. And while he can still attend meetings and use the team’s weight room during the suspension, he cannot practice or attend games.

He must also hit the benchmarks set by the substance-abuse program’s medical officer during the suspension. Miller can be formally reinstated in Week 7, when the Broncos will begin to prepare for an Oct. 20 game in Indianapolis. Miller will be moved to the reserve/suspended list when the Broncos trim their roster to 53 players ahead of Saturday's deadline.

While Miller was in the Broncos' home togs Thursday night, he did not enter the game. After initially saying he would play Miller in the final two preseason games because he didn’t want to turn a six-game suspension into an eight-game suspension, Broncos coach John Fox didn’t put Miller in the lineup in the 32-24 loss to the Cardinals.

“If we played him, it would have been probably third down, on passing downs, as a rusher,’’ Fox said. “You start doing the math on that -- is risking him out there four or five plays really going to benefit us? He’s had good conditioning. The unique thing about the suspension is that he can condition at our facility. He can be in our meetings. The only thing he can’t do is come to our games and play in practice.’’

The Broncos are hopeful that Miller will return poised to contribute at a Pro Bowl level.

Miller, as he has since the suspension was announced, declined to comment as he left the locker room following the game, saying simply, “Not tonight.’’