Tablet Sports

NFL Insider: Broncos’ Von Miller back to his dominant self

Von Miller has the sign hanging in his locker, the letters in red just to be sure he doesn’t miss them every day.

G.O.A.T. stands for Greatest of All Time.

“When I look at that, it just reminds what I’m going out there to practice to do, what I’m going out there in a game to be,” Miller said in a phone conversation. “That’s my motivation. I don’t want to be just another guy. I want to be the best.”

The DeSoto and Texas A&M product has 45 sacks in 51 career games. He was the defensive rookie of the year in 2011. He’s been to two Pro Bowls, and he earned All-Pro honors in 2012.

But Miller also has had his setbacks.

He served a six-game suspension last season for violating the NFL’s drug policy, and he ended up playing only nine games in 2013 after tearing the ACL in his right knee in Week 16. He underwent surgery in January.

A Denver Post columnist declared Miller back to his dominant 2012 form when Miller had two sacks in the fourth game of this season against Arizona. Miller thinks it was sooner than that.

“In my head, I felt like I was back right when I got back on the field,” Miller said. “You’ve just kind of got to have that mindset going into it. I felt like I was back in training camp. When I started to have some production on the field, it would have to be my second game. My first game back, I felt like I was playing a little bit the way I was last year. In the second game, I attacked practice really, really hard. I ran to the ball. That carried over to the game against Kansas City.”

Miller’s 10 sacks are tied for fifth most in the NFL, three behind leader Justin Houston of Kansas City. But Miller leads in Pro Bowl voting over Houston at outside linebacker, with 165,045 votes to Houston’s 125,106.

“It’s great,” Miller said. “It’s other people’s opinion about me. I remember my first year in the league, I went to the Pro Bowl, and it was easy. The second year I went to the Pro Bowl, and I thought it was going to be easy. I really didn’t appreciate it. Now, after last year, being an alternate, you appreciate that stuff. You realize how valuable those awards and those accolades are to you. I’m very grateful and very appreciative of it.”

Miller has been helped by the addition of DeMarcus Ware. Ware, the Cowboys’ all-time sack leader, signed with the Broncos in the off-season and has groomed Miller while getting nine sacks of his own.

“He’s a great leader,” Miller said. “He’s a great friend, a great listener, a great teacher. Everybody knows what type of package we were getting when we got DeMarcus. He’s been as advertised and more. He’s definitely been instrumental in my success this year.”

Miller has had only one sack the past four games. He’s due, he said.

“I’ve been really, really close,” he said. “It’s going to come. I’ve had opportunities to get two and three. Those multiple-sack games are going to come, and I’m going to be able to string them together. I’m going to get on a roll here, and get them down when it counts.”

Chandler watch

Buffalo Bills tight end Scott Chandler was talking about his team’s 38-3 victory over the Jets on Monday night. He summed it up as, “It was one of those things that snowballed.”

Chandler didn’t even realize his pun.

Chandler, one of three active NFL players from Southlake Carroll, has made his home in Orchard Park, N.Y., since 2010. Never before had he seen anything like last week when a storm dumped nearly 6 feet of snow in his neighborhood near the team’s facility.

“There were drifts over my head, and I’m 6-7,” Chandler said in a phone interview. “We have three girls, and we’d put the baby down for a nap, and my wife and I would go shovel for an hour and a half, two hours. You didn’t feel like you’d made any progress. You’d go back out two hours later, and it’d be all filled in. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

The Bills were snowed in all week, with no practice time until they got to Detroit on Friday. Chandler needed a snowmobile ride from a neighbor just to get to the main road to catch a ride to get to the stadium Friday before the team’s flight.

“There’s seven of us who live on this street, including [Kyle] Orton and our center Eric Wood, so we were able to get together and kind of go over stuff a little bit,” Chandler said of their week at home. “We had a mock walk-through that was more of a joke than anything else, but it was pretty fun. We got outside in the snow and were diving for passes and tackling one another.

“The coaches did a great job communicating with us, but obviously it’s pretty difficult.”

Chandler was with the Chargers his rookie season when wildfires forced the team to practice in Phoenix during the week. But the Chargers played the game at home.

This time, Chandler’s team played a home game in Detroit.

Chandler scored the Bills’ second touchdown on a 19-yard pass from Kyle Orton. His touchdown celebration received widespread attention, as Chandler pretended to shovel snow before yelling, “No snow!”

“People ask me if I planned it or anything,” Chandler said. “I didn’t. I spiked the ball, and I was like, ‘I’m shoveling out of here for the people of Buffalo,’ because I think for them, the game was a welcome distraction.

“It’s all pretty natural. I’d been shoveling all week anyway. I had my form down.”