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Monday, August 26, 2013
Broncos practice report: It's still Miller time

By Jeff Legwold

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Broncos coach John Fox has made it pretty clear he wants to get Von Miller as much work as possible, even with a six-game suspension on the horizon for the two-time Pro Bowl selection.

And it's pretty clear when Fox does that it means somebody else isn't getting the work. A tough call, but Fox has elected to keep Miller engaged and with the starters as the suspension nears.

Fox has had to weigh the benefits of working Miller in the starting defense now to better prepare Miller for his scheduled return to the field in Week 7, against the snaps that could have gone to players elsewhere on the developmental curve. Because every snap Miller takes in practice, as well as in the preseason games, is a snap that didn’t go to one of the Broncos younger, less experienced players.

Fox said following the league’s announcement of the suspension he would play Miller against the Rams this past Saturday and he did just that, starting Miller in the game. Miller finished with 18 snaps on defense. Miller will also play Thursday night against the Cardinals in the preseason finale and will officially begin his suspension Saturday.

But as Fox explained it this past weekend, Miller has a six-game suspension and “I wasn’t going to make it eight."

All of that said, however, it has really been injuries to Robert Ayers (Achilles/ankle) and Derek Wolfe (neck) that have made it possible for the Broncos to work Miller and still get the linebackers the work they need to cover for his absence. Miller played at defensive end against the Rams and is expected to do that against the Cardinals as well. Miller worked with the starters at defensive end in Monday’s practice, with veteran Shaun Phillips at the other defensive end spot, while Wesley Woodyard, Nate Irving (in Miller’s strong-side linebacker spot) and Danny Trevathan worked at linebacker in base defense.

Malik Jackson, a fifth-round pick in the 2012 draft, has also gotten plenty of work with Wolfe and Ayers being out. Like they do with Wolfe, the Broncos like Jackson’s potential because he can play on the interior in the defensive line and at end.