He wasn’t the guy who missed the offseason program, or the guy they needed to keep an eye on to make sure his conditioning is up to par.
No, for a collection of plays, Miller was the Alpha player in what was the league's top defense last season. He took an early-morning run-game drill and made it a showcase for the rare combination of quickness and power.
As he simply blew up play after play -- safety T.J. Ward simply screamed, “That’s what I’m talking about" at one point. Miller was quickly shuttled off to the next drill so others could finish their work without him disassembling the plan after each snap.
“I know he looked like he wore a couple people out, I know that,’’ coach Gary Kubiak said. “We put a tackle at tight end to try to make it an even match, but it still didn’t work out. He looks good.’’
Miller missed the offseason program while working on a long-term contract -- a six-year, $114.5 million deal signed just before training camp. But since he signed that deal, those three words have trailed him through the Broncos’ workdays -- “he looks good.’’
“He does look good -- he’s Von,’’ linebacker Brandon Marshall said. “We know he’d be ready.’’
After managing his practice snaps in camp’s first week, Miller is expected to be turned loose for full duty by Wednesday or Thursday. And while his new contract comes with plenty of expectations, those around him say Miller is aware of what’s to come and add he seems prepared to wrestle with the fame that comes with football fortune.
“Von is ready to go,’’ defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. “ … maybe they thought with no offseason that he wouldn’t be ready physically. It looked like he is to me. He moves tremendously well and he’s working hard at it. He wants to be a leader and that’s important, too.’’
Miller had promised throughout the offseason he would do the work and that if, and when, he signed a new deal, he would be ready to show why the Broncos had eventually put the deal on the table. And he, less than a week into training camp, has kept his word.
“For one, I’ll be here [for six years]. I don’t have to worry about that,’’ Miller said. “And it’s just all football. That’s what you want. That’s when you can be at your best, when it’s all football. When you’re thinking about your teammates and thinking about the play assignment, nothing else really matters. That’s where I’m at right now.’’
Asked if that implied the contract negotiations were weighing on him before, Miller said: “I don’t want to say I was worried. There were just some uncharted waters. You’re always a little hesitant at times with all that stuff going on, but I don’t have to worry about that stuff anymore. That stuff is over and done with.
Now, it is about football. About sacks, tackles for loss, and leading a team that has won five consecutive division titles to go with this past February’s Super Bowl. But also a team that has heard many people who don’t reside in its home city say the run is over.
Miller is front and center on whatever becomes of the new season. He is the player the fans chant “M-V-P’’ at as he goes through drills each morning in camp, the face of the franchise with Peyton Manning having retired.
“It always feels good to get great compliments," Miller said. "If it were the other way around and everybody was saying, ‘That Von, I don’t know what he been doing over the offseason …’ It’s always good to hear the positive side of things. It’s a great comment. I’m just trying to be the best Von I can be.”