The reports from this morning that Von Miller had merely sprained his knee and not torn any ligaments were apparently just wishful thinking, perhaps even on the part of Miller himself, and an MRI revealed on Monday that Miller indeed has a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the 2013-14 season.
This is a huge blow for the Broncos’ defense, no doubt. Per the ratings of Pro Football Focus, Miller was Denver’s highest graded defensive player despite registering only five sacks in nine games. Miller was suspended the first six games of the season when the Broncos went 6-0, and the team has been 6-3 with him in the lineup.
Every situation has a silver lining, and for the Broncos, it’s just that. They were undefeated without Miller, and as long as Peyton Manning is calling the shots, this team will be in place to win ball games. Miller obviously makes a huge difference defensively, and is the premiere 4-3 OLB in the NFL, but his absence will now allow him to get stronger, faster, and mentally ready to come back in 2014 on a mission.
Prior to the start of the 2013 season, Miller guaranteed a Broncos Super Bowl and got into a lot of trouble off the field, allegedly having a season long suspension reduced to six games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Thanks to the preparedness of an NFL team, the Broncos have already worked out potential replacements on the roster for Miller. Earlier in the season, Denver worked out pass rusher Mark Anderson, who doesn’t play linebacker obviously but has a lot of experience rushing the passer. He’s an option to come join the rotation if the team wants a veteran out there that is proven.
Otherwise, the Broncos have worked out a lot of young players in preparation for futures contracts to be handed out when the regular season concludes. One of those players could be called upon earlier than anticipated.
L.J. Fort, a linebacker that played in all 16 games as an undrafted rookie in Cleveland last year is an intriguing option. He is a young player with a full season of experience that could come in and give the Broncos depth and special teams ability.
The team has also worked out the top pick in the 2011 CFL Draft, a guy named Henoc Muamba who is perhaps the most intriguing prospect of them all. Muamba was a CFL All-Star in 2013 and 106 tackles, 13 for a loss, and a sack this season for the Winnipeg Bombers.
It’s also possible that Muamba has worked out for the Broncos twice. There were reports that he would work out for the team in the early portion of December, and then reports surfaced again just four days ago that he had worked out for the team.
It’ll be interesting to see what the Broncos do, but there are some options out there.