The nerves were riding high for Von Miller Wednesday when he had to address the media for the first time since the NFL issued his four-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy.
Regardless of whether the suspension is upheld, Miller is still practicing with the first-team defense.
Miller addressed the media again on Sunday, and seemed much more relaxed, probably because he got to talk more about football.
“I think I’ve definitely improved, especially in coverage,” Miller said. “If you ask [Linebackers] Coach [Richard] Smith, he’ll say that I’ve still got a lot of work to do. I think I still have a lot of work to do, but we’ve got some great receivers and I think I’ve been doing a great job with those guys.”
When Miller won his defensive rookie of the year award, he had 11.5 sacks, 64 tackles (19 for a loss), and 2 forced fumbles in 15 games. Last year at this time, we wondered if he could improve upon those numbers or if he would become another second-year player that falls into a slump. Miller had 18.5 sacks, 68 tackles (25 for a loss), 6 forced fumbles, and an interception in 16 games. Point proven and point well-received.
Now with some adversity staring him in the face, it’s time to see what Miller can really do. After all, at this point he’s missing a quarter of the season.
Miller has handled adversity well in the past. In 2008 while at Texas A&M, he was suspended from spring football activities for skipping classes and not producing during practice. One year later as a junior, he led the nations in sacks (17) and had 21 tackles for a loss.
“Everybody’s faced with adversity, it’s just how you handle it,” Miller said. “I think I’m handling it well.”
During Miller’s senior season, he was was held back for the first six games due to suffering an ankle sprain. That season, he had 10.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for a loss.
No stranger to turning adversity into ambition, Miller understands what his role is with the team.
“With great power comes great responsibility,” Miller said. “I understand that. I understand that I’ve made mistakes, but the guy who I was yesterday is not the guy who I am today.”
Miller has the support of his teammates and he has the support of the fans (there’s no shortage of No. 58 jerseys in the stands). Let’s see how much “support” he gets from the league office.