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'It's a punch in the gut for everybody': Von Miller to be placed on IR, could miss entire 2020 season after suffering ankle injury

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Outside linebacker Von Miller will be placed on injured reserve and could miss the entire 2020 season after suffering an ankle injury during Tuesday's practice, Head Coach Vic Fangio announced Wednesday.

"There's a chance of that," Fangio said. "It's too early to say for sure. He's definitely out a while."

Fangio said Miller suffered the injury during a "normal play" in Tuesday's practice.

"He just rushed around the edge and never hit the ground and [it] never looked bad," Fangio said. "If you saw the video, you'd think nothing happened, but it did."

Miller will be evaluated by two or three other doctors to see if he needs surgery to repair the injury, but Fangio said he thinks the outside linebacker will need to go under the knife. If he does need surgery, Fangio said it would happen "sooner rather than later."

Miller's injury comes after an offseason in which he dedicated himself to putting in the work that would allow him to challenge for Defensive Player of the Year honors.

"I was sad when it happened for a lot of reasons, mainly for Von," Fangio said." Von has had a hell of an offseason. I kind of reiterated that to you guys many times. I didn't see him in the offseason, but I talked to him a number of times in the offseason. When you don't see someone with your own eyes, you're hesitant to believe or buy in, but I could just tell by the way we were talking and the things he was doing that he had the mindset that he was going to come out and have a hell of a season. When we finally did get back together, it was true. I'm sad that he's not going to be able to get the season that he worked for because it would have been fun to watch for me, for him, for you and for everybody. On a personal basis as it relates to Von, everybody is sad and disappointed for him. As it relates to our team, we're disappointed. Anytime you lose anybody, you're disappointed. But we will move on and we will make it work. We lost Bradley last year, an equal player at the same position and we played our best football after that. That's not because we didn't have Bradley. We just kept developing as a team and we compensated for it. We have a better team this year overall, so I expect us to still be a good team without Von."

Still, the loss of a player and leader of Miller's caliber is not easy to cope with inside the locker room.

"Without a doubt, it's a punch in the gut for everybody just knowing how good of a teammate he is and how good of a leader he is for this team," quarterback Drew Lock said. "Personally, for him, I talked to him a lot in the offseason. He was gunning, he was ready to go. He was extremely excited. It was a new focus from Von. I think when you hit double digits [in NFL seasons], it becomes real life for you, and he was excited. It hurts our team and our spirts just how much we cared for the guy. Life goes on. He's going to work to get back on the field as fast as possible and we have to work to win games."

Without Miller in the lineup, Fangio said the entire Broncos roster will need to rise to the occasion — both from a leadership perspective and an on-field-play perspective.

"The whole team has to pick up the void," Fangio said. "It's not the player that ends up playing for him, it's not the defense, it's not the offense, it's not the special teams, it's everybody. When you lose a player of that caliber, everybody has to pick up the slack in all facets — on the field, off the field and in the locker room. We have a good enough team to do that. If you're a good enough team, you can overcome these injuries. There are countless examples of that over the years — very recently and a very long time ago. Any time you want to look at, there's been these types of injuries that teams have overcome and still had successful seasons. We want to be added to that list."

Outside linebackers Jeremiah Attaochu and Malik Reed will "share" Miller's reps, Fangio said.

"It'll be those two guys primarily getting the share of snaps," Fangio said. "Who ends up starting, who ends up playing in what packages will be fluid, but it'll be those two guys. I wouldn't say it'll be one guy."

The Broncos, though, won't rush Bradley Chubb back from an ACL injury in Miller's absence. Whether Chubb is on a pitch count against the Titans is independent of Miller's injury.

"Absolutely not," Fangio said when asked if Miller's injury changes Chubb's status. "I told him that today already."

As the Broncos near their Week 1 game, Fangio said he spoke with the team to acknowledge the loss and disappointment — and to emphasize that the Broncos' season is not over before it has begun.

"You have to acknowledge the loss and you have to acknowledge your sadness on a personal level, but we can go out and still play winning football," Fangio said. "We talked about that today and we'll move forward [while] never forgetting Von and hoping that he returns at some point this year. The good thing about his injury is once it's healed, it's healed. It's not one of those where he'll have lingering effects."

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