INDIANAPOLIS --The 2013 year was a difficult and frustrating one individually for linebacker Von Miller. Away from the field, there were legal woes and a six-game substance-abuse suspension to start the season. On it, there was a torn anterior cruciate ligament to end his season in Week 16.
Undoubtedly, the events did not help his on-field play, and the consistency of his 2012 season, in which he set a Broncos record, was hard to find. The task now is to ensure that as he recovers from the torn ACL, the off-field issues within his control are not repeated.
"I think that he has grown up a lot," said Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway. 'I think he did a good job to adjusting, even though it affected him during the year.
"He's done a tremendous job of doing the right things and everything he's supposed to be doing. So hopefully he can continue to do that, because we'd love Von to be back to the Von we know he can be."
The highest NFL draft pick in Broncos history earned that status for a reason: his talent at a premium position. The Broncos would prefer not to imagine a defense without the two-time Pro Bowler, and he remains a pillar of the team's foundation.
"He's got to put last year behind him, and hopefully he learned his lesson from last year," Elway said.
The optimism about Miller remains, although it's tempered by the reality of the last 12 months.
"Your hope is that there's a maturation and a growth, and an improvement. That's what you hope for, really, on any player year-to-year," said Head Coach John Fox. "So we have a lot of resources, we have a lot of people working very hard, whether it's medically, spiritually, whatever, in that building.
"As a coach, you're looking for growth in people, and that's what you do. You find the best human talent that you can and motivate them to do better. That's really what we do -- and that's in every area, because all of it can bite you, from suspensions to whatever."
Fox believes that Miller has bought into what the club expects of him.
"You kind of always get that sense with him. He's a good kid," Fox said. "But sometimes, in the past, some of those things have popped up. That's why you hope that it helps and it moves forward."
The recovery of Miller's knee, which he injured against the Houston Texans on Dec. 22, is less in Miller's control than the off-field issues. The timetable for a typical recovery from that injury means that he could still be dealing with rehabilitation as training camp begins, but the progress appears to positive so far -- "from what I can hear," Elway said.
"Then going through treatment and everything, he's been doing good," Elway said.
The Broncos hope they can say the same of Miller this fall, both in his recovery and personal growth.