ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For a pass-rushing, quarterback-mashing linebacker, being compared to the legendary Lawrence Taylor is like telling an artist he’s painting in da Vinci’s footsteps.
When that compliment comes from former linebacker and Broncos great Randy Gradishar, it carries a little extra weight.
But although Broncos linebacker
“It’s just humbling,” Miller said following Wednesday’s minicamp session. “Lawrence Taylor, he’s one of the greatest players, one of the great defensive players to play the game. It just lets me know that I’ve got a long way to go.”
In other words, Miller believes he must maintain a steady diet of hard work and persistence in order to achieve the caliber of player he’d like to be.
Fortunately for the Broncos, he also has a hefty appetite for improvement.
“Like I’ve said before, I’m my biggest critic,” Miller said. “I feel like I’ve taken steps in the direction of being the linebacker that the organization brought me in to be, but I still feel like I’m a long way away. I still feel like I’ve got a lot of work to do.”
After addressing the team on Wednesday, Gradishar spoke to the media with some compelling words about whom he would most closely associate the Broncos’ electric third-year linebacker with.
“I guess, probably, the closest might be the Lawrence Taylor scenario,” Gradishar said, noting that Ted Hendricks and Tom Jackson were also comparable players from Gradishar’s era – with the only caveat being that Miller gets to the quarterback more frequently than those players did. “The Von Millers and Lawrence Taylors, they actually get those sacks quite a bit more often than the other guys do, so that would be somewhat of a comparison.”
It’s a bold statement.
In 13 NFL seasons, Taylor was the cause of recurring nightmares for offensive coaches and players around the league, totaling 132.5 career sacks and nine interceptions in his career.
A three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Taylor is often cited as one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history – a player with unprecedented quickness and ferocity off the edge.
“He could do it all,” Miller said.
Still, the similarities shine through.
Miller’s 30.0 sacks in the first two years of his career tied him with the great Derrick Thomas – another player who Miller is frequently associated with – for the third-highest total in NFL history in a player’s first two seasons.
Pro Football Focus recently declared that Miller has “no weaknesses” as a pass rusher, but Miller disagrees with that assessment – and he believes that it’s the type of mentality that is necessary to continue getting better.
“My defensive coordinator, Coach (Jack) Del Rio and (Linebackers Coach Richard) Smith, those guys are always pushing me that you can never do it 100 percent right,” Miller said. “You can never do it perfectly. I think with those guys staying on me and me holding myself to the standards that I do, I can definitely take strides in getting there.”
Although practices will conclude after Thursday’s final minicamp session until training camp in late July, Miller will spend some of time in-between that period training at Broncos headquarters – pushing himself to be in the best physical shape possible for the 2013 season.
“I’m coming back sooner than I expected, but it’s all for good,” Miller said. “It’s going to help me be the type of player that I know I can be.”