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Del Rio on Life Without Miller

Posted Dec 26, 2013

Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio discusses the loss of Von Miller, preparing for Terrelle Pryor and returning to Oakland.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Broncos have dealt with their fair share of injuries in 2013, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

But Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio said the only way to approach it is the same way cornerbacks deal with giving up a catch -- move on, and quickly.

“I’ve got a corner memory when it comes to that kind of stuff. I don’t dwell on that kind of stuff much," he said. "We just do the best we can each day with and don’t get too caught up in it. Next guy up – working hard to prepare the next guy and the different combinations of guys that we’re going to utilize and really I don’t spend a lot of time feeling sorry for myself. I don’t encourage us to sit around – ‘Oh geez, what if we just had this guy?‘ I think for us we’ve got to look at who we have and how we can match them and mix them and put them together and come up with combinations that can help us win football games. That’s really all we’re doing.”

The latest loss for the club was linebacker Von Miller, whose torn ACL sent him to injured reserve, costing him the remainder of the season.

"He’s one of our better players. You’d love to have him," Del Rio said. "He’s not available so we’ll do what we always do here and that’s the next man up and keep rolling. That’s what it is. He’s a great player. He’ll be back at some point next year and this year we just need to carry on with what we have."

The silver lining is that the defense saw what life without Miller was like for the first six games of the season, when the two-time Pro Bowler was out due to a suspension.

The team went 6-0 in that stretch.

"The fact that we did go through it earlier in the year, we have a little bit of an understanding of what it’s going to take," Del Rio said. "Not just one guy can fill his role because he does a lot of different things. It takes more than one guy and we understand that and we’ll work at it accordingly.”

Though the defense will utilize multiple players to fill Miller's role on the field, there was just one player who filled Miller's spot on the active roster -- linebacker Brandon Marshall.

A fifth-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2012 NFL Draft, Marshall spent the first 16 weeks of this season on the Broncos' practice squad. He called the move to the active roster "the best Christmas gift I've ever gotten."

“He’s given us great energy out here on the practice field, bothering the offense -- that’s usually a good sign," Del Rio said of Marshall's contributions to this point. "We’ve been bringing him up to speed over the last few weeks in terms of defense and what we do and how we do it. So he’ll be available and we’ll see where that goes. He’s an athletic guy and has done a nice job with great energy and great determination every day in practice. Now he’s worked his way up onto the active roster.”

PREPARING FOR PRYOR

Earlier this week, the Oakland Raiders announced that Terrelle Pryor will start at quarterback this Sunday.

It's a familiar face for the Broncos, as the two teams' Week 3 matchup featured Pryor under center as well. But Matt McGloin has started at quarterback for Oakland in each of the past six weeks, so Del Rio said the team has plenty of tape on both signal callers.

“Well, we’re not taking anything for granted," Del Rio said. "That was Week 3, it was a long time ago. So we’ve taken a good look at the Raiders and what they’ve been doing, including both quarterbacks. And so a lot of tape has been looked at. We’re getting ourselves ready to go out there and play a good game.”

The main goal for the defense this week is to build on a strong performance against the Houston Texans. The group sacked quarterback Matt Schaub three times, intercepted him twice and held the Texans to their lowest point total of the season.

“We want to build on it," Del Rio said. "It was one of our better outings as a defense in terms of the urgency and getting off the field, not letting them run the ball and forcing them into third down and getting off the field and just flying around having fun – we got the band back together. That’s how we’re going after it right now.”

GOING HOME

Del Rio grew up a Raiders fan in Hayward, Calif.

"That's home," he said of the team's upcoming trip to Oakland.

Sunday, he'll coach in the same stadium where he once starred as a high school athlete, leading Hayward High School to a state championship.

"I played a high school championship game there," he said of O.co Coliseum. "Grew up with my dad taking me to Raiders games, maybe one or two a year. Being on that field, remembering as a child how I dreamed of, 'Wow, could I someday do that maybe?' Then to realize those kind of dreams and be able to play on that field and now coach against them on that field, it's definitely a great thrill."

When asked if it's a strange feeling to coach against the team he grew up rooting for, Del Rio cracked a smile.

"I put that aside when I'm going against them," he said.

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