Broncos ease Miller’s workload in light of injury bug
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Outside linebackers Shane Ray and Shaq Barrett are both out until September, so the Denver Broncos aren’t taking many chances with Von Miller.
Miller’s training camp workload already was limited because of his superstar status, and his snaps will be further minimized, coach Vance Joseph said Saturday as Ray underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist.
The Broncos brought back linebacker Danny Mason, who was in Denver in 2015, which “provides depth so we don’t burn Von out,” Joseph said. “That’s important now because we’re down to Von with no Shane, no Shaq. So, being smart with Von is going to be a priority.”
Miller is often kept out of pass rushing portions of summertime workouts anyway because of how he can destroy the drills — along with O-linemen’s confidence.
Now, his snaps during 11-on-11 drills and preseason games also will be carefully managed .
“Maybe it’s very few,” Joseph said.
The Broncos lost Barrett (hip) in the offseason. He’s expected to return in September, and so is Ray, who realized after Friday’s practice that he’d been playing through a serious injury after jamming his left wrist on the first day of camp 24 hours earlier.
The Broncos have lost two front-line players to wrist injuries so far. Running back Devontae Booker had two screws inserted into his broken left wrist Friday and is out six weeks.
Ray will likely play with a club for a couple of weeks upon his return, which Joseph hopes is for the Broncos’ game against Dallas on Sept. 17.
Ray’s replacement in the starting lineup is former Saints linebacker Kasim Edebali, whom Joseph described as a big, hard-working, relentless rusher. Right tackle Menelik Watson had higher and more colorful praise for the fourth-year pro.
“Kasim can be a monster,” Watson said. “I think the kid can do whatever he puts his mind to. He’s got incredible get-off. He’s got incredible intelligence. He’s got great hands, great feet.”
Despite being held back, Miller, the MVP of Super Bowl 50 who missed out on Defensive Player of the Year honors by a single vote in 2016, is still finding ways to get his work in.
He sneaked in a pretty good punt return at the start of Friday’s workout and got in some sprints during the special teams portion of practice by chasing kick returners downfield. At the indoor walkthrough a day earlier, Miller took turns with cornerback Aqib Talib and safety T.J. Ward throwing, catching and covering passes into the corner of the end zone.
“Sometimes football players can get a little intense, but with Von around I feel like everybody is always relaxed because Von always has a good time,” Edebali said. “That carries over to the entire room and I’m coming out pretty relaxed, too, just ready to perform.”
Miller also clocked some work hours over summer vacation, sponsoring his first pass rush summit at Stanford in the mold of retired teammate Peyton Manning’s annual passing camp at Duke.
Miller gathered with Ray, retired teammate DeMarcus Ware and other NFL players including Vic Beasley, Khalil Mack, Cassius Marsh and Cliff Avril to share secrets of their success in tormenting quarterbacks.
Miller said it’s one thing to watch film of fellow pass rushers, but “when you’ve got these guys actually going over the plays, it’s incredible. I feel like it’s a shame we don’t do that more often in the National Football League.”
FORGET ALL THE CHATTER SO FAR ABOUT THE BRONCOS’ QUARTERBACK COMPETITION :
The airwaves are filled with incessant updates on Denver’s QB battle and proclamations of who’s ahead. But the Broncos coaches aren’t keeping a daily tally of the competition between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, neither of whom has solved the “No Fly Zone” secondary that isn’t holding anything back.
“They both made plays; they don’t didn’t make plays,” Joseph said after Day 3. “It’s tough to ride the roller-coaster with those guys: Who won today? Who didn’t win today? I’m not going to do that, guys. It’s going to be a collective evaluation over the weeks.”
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