DENVER - Speculation surrounding Dove Valley and Broncos headquarters hasn't dissipated as the verdict of Von Miller's six game suspension became official. All the conjecture and propaganda, it has merely altered courses.
There is no more guesswork in the scenario, Miller will be out for the first part of the regular season. He did violate the NFL's drug policy (link), which does not necessarily mean he tested positive but rather he did not comply with the process fully. And there is now a glaring void that the Pro Bowl linebacker leaves for the Broncos to figure out a way to fill.
"Everyone's hitting the panic button [on the outside.] We haven't even played the game yet. We'll be quite alright," defensive end Shaun Phillips said. "Football is about 11 players at a time doing their job, not one player doing their job."
Defensively Denver will be at a definitive disadvantage, as the athleticism and power of Miller is irreplaceable. In the first six games of last season, a year in which he finished as the runner-up in the AFC Defensive Player Year voting, he totaled 6.0 sacks, a forced fumble and 20 total tackles.
Phillips along with Wesley Woodyard, Nate Irving, Danny Trevathan and newly acquired Paris Lenon will each need to share in the responsibility of making up for his absence.
"We've got pros at every position. I think we've got some depth to everything," Von Miller said. "I'm hopeful for my situation as well. Just continue to play football, just taking it one day at a time."
Miller is allowed, since the violation didn't stem for a positive test, to be around the team facility, go to meetings and even work out under the supervision of strength coaches during that time. The third year linebacker is also available to participate in the final two preseason games leading up to the first game of the regular season for the Broncos, but don't expect to see him out there much.
Denver's defense gets some much needed live, game-action to ready themselves for what's to come once Sept. 5 and the Baltimore Ravens come to town.
"We look for combinations at that time of year where you do that. I'd say it's pretty much what we do and we'll do it well and we'll be a good unit," defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said. "Whatever combinations we end up using we expect them to play at a high level for us and help us win."
Once Week 7 of the season, a trip to Indianapolis for the Broncos, arrives Miller has vowed to be ready. He'll be in shape and primed to pretend that the previous weeks never happened.
Denver, as a team, won't have that luxury. While the combined record last year of their opponents they'll face without Miller in the lineup is 37-59, they'll still be vulnerable. The linebackers in place know they must diffuse the situation and make plays.
"We have to go out there and make it look like it's not going to harm [us]. I'm not going to say it is and I'm not going to say it's not but we're just going to ball our tail off," continued linebacker Danny Trevathian.
Miller made a mistake, a regrettable infraction that will sideline him for nearly half the season. It will pass quickly unless those missed weeks turn into losses.
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