Miller should look to Ware for guidance

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
5:10
PM ET
DeMarcus Ware has been named to seven Pro Bowls. He has 117 career sacks and has been one of the league's best pass-rushers since his rookie season with the Dallas Cowboys in 2005.

He's also missed just three games in nine NFL seasons. He's had three seasons with at least 15 sacks and seven seasons with at least 11 sacks. He's been a team captain and a leader.

In short, Ware has been durable, reliable and exceedingly productive over an extended period of time while being the player on Dallas' defense that opposing offenses most wanted to stop. So he's everything the Broncos have wanted Von Miller to be when they selected him with the second overall pick in the 2011 draft.

[+] EnlargeVon Miller
Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY SportsBroncos LB Von Miller could use DeMarcus Ware's advice off the field as much as on it.
To this point Miller has been a maddening mix of breathtaking potential and immaturity to go along with several off-the-field incidents that have placed him in Stage 3 of the league's substance-abuse program following his six-game suspension this past season.

After talking to defensive coaches, scouts and other personnel executives over the past two days, it's clear the consensus is that Ware can help Miller immensely. So while the Broncos signed Ware because they need some edge presence on their defense, they may also benefit from any progress Ware can make with Miller.

"I think with Von, he's one of those incredible athletes," Ware said. "But also I think you can really home in on what you do best and make yourself not think as much when you're out there and he'll be even a better athlete. There's always room for improvement."

Ware was then asked if he could help Miller navigate some of the off-the-field potholes that have snared him over the past year or so. Ware was quick to answer.

"I think the main thing is having somebody here that's real for him," Ware said. "I've known him since his rookie season. I'm also a guy he's looked up to, a guy at the end of the day you can go in the trenches with, a guy you can trust."

That isn't boastful on Ware's part. Any pass-rusher with fewer than five years in the league, such as Miller, would be vocationally negligent not to look up to what Ware has done on the field and how he has handled himself along the way.

Miller is gifted, but many gifted players have come and gone in the NFL through the years. Some wasted their talent, believing it was theirs forever. Those who stand the test of time in pro football, or most anything else for that matter, do something more with what they were given.

They work, examine what they've done with honesty, fix what isn't working, and enhance what is.

Miller's best season was his 18.5 sack effort in 2012 that, if not for J.J. Watt's 20.5 sack season, would have made Miller the league's defensive player of the year. Yet Ware has had two seasons in which he finished with more sacks than Miller's 18.5.

Ware knows the tendencies of pass blockers. He has an array of moves and countermoves. He has, simply, the benefit of experience having been blessed with the same sort of talent.

"When Von first came in, before he got drafted, I talked to him a little bit," Ware said. "I've been mentoring him. Being able now to have the opportunity to play with him is a whole different thing. I'll be in the same locker room with him, being able to teach him some things. I'm looking forward to that opportunity. I just think that it's going to be great.”

Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway said he was "absolutely thrilled" to sign Ware. Elway places locker room chemistry -- a veteran player's ability to come into the Broncos' Dove Valley complex and add to what's already going on -- just behind potential impact on the field when deciding whom to pursue in the free-agent pool.

So, Ware helps with the leadership void left by the departures of players such as Chris Kuper, Champ Bailey and Wesley Woodyard while still being able to toss quarterbacks on the ground like a player who has averaged 13 sacks a season in his previous nine years.

"We know from watching on tape how much more football he has in him," Elway said. " … We are extremely excited to have DeMarcus here. Also the ability and the leadership qualities that he's going to bring to the defense, the toughness that he's played with throughout his career -- he is going to be able to get after the passer. He told [defensive backs coach] Cory Undlin, give him two-and-a-half seconds, he'll be there in two-and-a-half seconds. I don't doubt him when he says that."

And that's all needed -- in the Broncos' defense, in their locker room and on the practice field. But if Ware finds a way to reach Miller, to help Miller on the way back from ACL surgery as well as the lost season that was 2013 for Miller, the Broncos will have gotten more than their money's worth from signing Ware, with interest.

Jeff Legwold

ESPN Denver Broncos reporter

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