His return is not something he likes to talk about. It’s an uncomfortable subject loaded with emotion, as the split was not something either side hoped would happen. He’d rather just get out on the field and let his play do that talking for him.
Now that his six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy has been served, Miller returns to Denver’s lineup for the first time this season in Sunday night’s game against the Colts.
“I’m looking forward to having fun with my teammates, going out there and making plays, taking it one day at a time,” Miller told reporters after Friday’s practice.
“I just want to go out there and contribute. My team has been doing a great job and I’m just hopeful I can go in there and contribute, do stuff to help us win.”
The type of stuff Miller can do is get to the quarterback, disrupt the running game behind the line of scrimmage, and clog up passing lanes. His versatile skill set has been sorely missed by the Broncos, who despite ranking first against the rush, have given up 2,445 yards in six games, the fourth most in the NFL.
During his time away from the Broncos, Miller said that he’s been bulking up and working on his cardiovascular conditioning. He told reporters that he’s put on muscle and now weighs in at 270, a full 15 pounds more than he did last season. He also worked with Denver’s strength coach on interval training and short sprints designed to recreate the types of plays he’s involved in.
"I felt a lot stronger, quicker and faster," Miller said. "It's not like I'm running 100 yards or 400 yards, so I definitely felt good."
Miller in the best shape of his life is a frightening proposition for opposing offenses. He recorded 18½ sacks last season and was among the top vote-getters for Defensive Player of the Year. His unique talent has defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio optimistic about the prospects for defensive improvements as the season wears on.
“I feel like we got a good group of guys,” Del Rio said. “We're going to be better as we go through the year. Some of the places where we're not playing so well now right now I feel very confident we'll continue to grow and play good defense as we go down the road here."
There’s no doubt that with the type of play-busting potential Miller has shown in his first two seasons, the Broncos defense should look better than the unit that has surrendered a league-worst 337.7 passing yards per game. Along with Miller, they’re looking forward to moving on from the first six games of the season.
“Mentally, physically, all around, when you don’t have to worry about anything -- it’s just football -- it’s a whole lot easier out there,” Miller said Friday. “I said it before, I’m in a great place, physically and mentally.”