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AFC Defensive Player of Month Von Miller on meeting Sunday against the Ravens: 'This is a playoff game early in the season'

Broncos went 3-0 against three poor teams. Ravens are perennial playoff contenders. Von: "This is the time for us to show what we’ve got against a worthy opponent."

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Von can be provocative. He can be profound. He can be goofy and serious and is always diplomatic and complimentary, almost never critical.

But he almost never leaves his press conference without saying something provocative. After the Broncos built a 3-0 record against three of the NFL’s worst teams – the Giants, Jaguars and Jets are a combined 0-9 – the marketing vein running through Miller surfaced in time to hype his team’s upcoming game Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens at Empower Field at Mile High.

“It’s really like a playoff game early in the season,’’ Miller said Thursday. “A lot of these guys (on his team) haven’t even played in a playoff game before. That’s kind of been my message to these guys. This is a playoff game early in the season. This is the time for us to show what we’ve got against a worthy opponent.

“They’re a unique team. They have a unique style. A very effective style. But it is unique and it’s led by Lamar Jackson.’’

Jackson is a terrific running quarterback who can also inflict damage with his arm. He missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with a back injury, but the Broncos fully expect him to play. Miller will be there, waiting for the quarterback from his left outside linebacker position.

Perhaps unblocked.

That’s right, Von Miller – he of 110.0 career sacks, 4.0 of which came in the first three games this season, along with two other tackles for loss, impact plays that earned him the AFC Defensive Player of the Month – may be left unblocked as Jackson operates his zone read option keeper game.

“I think they’re just reading those guys and they depend on Lamar to just beat him,’’ Miller said. “Which is an effective strategy. You’ve got one-on-one with a defensive lineman or one-on-one with an outside linebacker, he can just outrun those guys, especially if you get (the offensive tackle) upfield or however they do it. But it’s an effective strategy. You leave the guy unblocked and you run up to the next level and block the next guy and Lamar Jackson runs around the guy that he’s reading and now they have an extra blocker on the secondary.

“Like I said, they have a very unique offense. Very unique quarterback. And they’re all effective in everything that they do.”

Miller’s player of the month award was the fourth of his career – and the first since September 2016, which the Broncos also finished with a 3-0 recird. His other two monthly honors came in 2012 and 2014, years that part of the Peyton. Notice the similarities? Von does.

He wasn’t getting such recognition when the Broncos posted records of 5-11, 6-10, 7-9 and 5-11 the previous four seasons. And he wouldn’t have got the montly award this year if “you’re 0-3 and you’re not winning games,’’ Miller said. “We’re winning games. We’re 3-0. Everybody is playing at a high level. Offense is playing at high level, our defense is playing at a high level. You have team success, individual awards like that come.”

Still, early signs are Miller is playing his best football since at least 2018, when he finished with 14.5 sacks. Perhaps, missing all of last season with an ankle injury rejuvenated him. Mentally, physically and emotionally.

“I come in and I stay in my groove,’’ Miller said. “I spend more time at the facility, I spend more time with my guys. I feel like that really simplifies stuff for me. Sometimes when you’re on social media and stuff it can send your mood up if you’re looking at stuff for you and it can send your mood right down. I just try to stay in my own little groove and try to keep my mindset fair and come in and be the same Von every single day.”

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