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'I want it bad': Von Miller nears return, looks to bolster Hall of Fame resume

EAGAN, Minn. — When Von Miller's NFL career comes to a close and the obligatory five-year waiting period is complete, the Super Bowl 50 MVP should find himself welcomed into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Whether on the first ballot or a couple of years down the road, it seems like a near lock that Miller is headed toward a gold jacket and bronze bust in Canton, Ohio.

An eight-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro, Miller was on the Hall of Fame's All-2010s Team and only needs 16 more career sacks to move into the top 20 on the all-time list.

When Miller was in Canton last weekend for Peyton Manning's enshrinement ceremony, he couldn't help but think ahead to that possible moment.

"That's everybody's dream, but I'm still here working on my Hall of Fame resume right now," Miller said Wednesday. "I want to make that resume as ironclad as I can. It is a tough group to get into. It's only [354] guys that have been elected — five [Modern-Era players] per year. It's super, super tough to get into that elite group of people to get that gold jacket.

"I want that, and I want it bad. You sit there and you listen to all these speeches. Of course, you think about it. I just re-invested in myself saying, 'I have to make sure this happens. I have to leave no mistake on my career so I can get in.' I still have a lot of time to do it. Of course, you think about doing it, but I thought about doing more to get in there."

Miller should still have plenty of time to add to his Hall of Fame resume, and he'll look to add to his sack total as he returns from an ankle injury that forced him to miss the 2020 season.

As he nears his first game action, Miller said he's moved past the injury and feels "good with where I'm at" in his recovery. Before Week 1 arrives, though, Miller said he'll need a few preseason snaps to help him prepare.

"Yeah, I'd like to sharpen the knife," Miller said. "[Head] Coach [Vic] Fangio might be listening. I don't know that I need to play all three preseason games for the whole game, but I do need to sharpen the knife. There's no doubt about that. I think he and I can both agree that I need to sharpen the knife. I haven't played in over a year. It'll just be good to get back into the groove again and just go through the whole pregame [routine] and knock the cobwebs off. Even though it's just a figure of speech and there are no cobwebs, I still feel young and ready to go. The preseason — yeah, I think I need to play a little bit, for sure."

Miller said he would leave when he played up to Fangio and that he wasn't sure if he would get snaps on Saturday in Minnesota. Fangio said Wednesday he hadn't decided whether Miller will play in the preseason opener, but he has been pleased with Miller's training camp performance in recent days.

"It's been good lately, the last — I don't know, I lose track of time during camp," Fangio said. "But it's been good lately."

Whenever Miller does get back into game action for the first time, he admits that it could be an emotional moment.

"I'm not going to cry or nothing like that," Miller said. "I'm a thoughtful guy. I'll think about my whole career and what got me to that point. I wouldn't cry or anything like that. It'll definitely be emotional. Whenever you can fight back through season-ending injury like that — twice, for me — it's definitely a milestone that you appreciate and look back on. There won't be any crying or anything like that.

"I'll be ready to play football."

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