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Miller, Ward see potential in aggressive 3-4 defense


DENVER — **When we last spoke to Von Miller and T.J. Ward, they were enjoying their time in Phoenix at the Pro Bowl. Gary Kubiak had just been hired as the Broncos' new head coach but there had yet to be any word on a defensive coordinator. They said they wanted someone aggressive, someone who could put them in the best position to win.

As it would happen, the Broncos would hire Wade Phillips, who is somebody who can do exactly that. Phillips is known for his 3-4 defense, which does well with the ability to hide blitzing players while the linemen focus on penetrating through the line.

That kind of creativity is something that Ward is quite keen on seeing, especially as a versatile safety.

"First off, we're transitioning from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4, and that's a lot different in itself," he said, breaking down the changes they'll be going through. "You have four backers and three D-linemen, but sometimes it can look like you have a five-man defensive line and only two linebackers so there's a lot of things that can be done within a 3-4: disguising, blitzing and things like that. So I'm looking forward to what Wade Phillips has and his creativity with it."

At his introductory press conference a couple weeks ago, Phillips was asked what kind of mindset and personality his defense would have, and "aggressive" was his reply. After all, he said, defensive players are naturally aggressive.

"It's definitely something, one of those characteristics that you like, especially at my position, allowing me to do different things, blitzing and coverages, hiding me and moving me in different spots," Ward said. "So that's what I wanted from a coordinator and I hope Coach Phillips does that for me and the team, but at the end of the day it's all about winning."

When Von Miller was asked about what he wanted to see in a defensive coordinator, that was the basic thing he wanted: someone who can get them to win. "We got great guys, we got a great team over there," he said. "So just a great coach, just a great manager of what we got in there. The defense is more colorful than the offense. We got a lot of screws over there," he added with a laugh.

Fast forward about a month and Miller is excited to get to work with Phillips, who aims to unleash Miller even further as a pass rusher.

"I'm hoping I can do a little bit more of what I've been doing: sacking the quarterback, and I guess I need to work on my dances and stuff, now," Miller said Thursday night. "It's always good when you've got a defense that's kind of surrounded around you and that's put more emphasis on yourself to get the job done."

But at the moment the players are limited to working out on their own. A season ago, Miller didn't even have to think about that. He was busy rehabbing his knee from a torn ACL. This year, he can just focus on building his body back up and preparing for a new season and new defense.

"I've been working extremely hard this offseason," Miller said. "Last year I couldn't really do it as much with the ACL surgery but now I'm 100 percent. I've been doing all I can every single day and I'm looking forward to my teammates and all the guys leaning on me to make some plays for the Denver Broncos."

Miller also noted that he was at Dove Valley on Thursday to work out before the 2015 Make-A-Wish Sporting Affair Celebrity Waiter Dinner, and had a chance to meet the coaching staff. However, because of NFL rules, they couldn't broach any football topics. Regardless, Miller still said that he's excited to get to work with them and get talking football when that time comes down the line.

"It's going to be exciting," Miller said. "I was up at the facility today. I met with Coach Kubiak and Wade Phillips and all those guys. I'm excited, I was pumped. I was wanting to get into this and that but all that will come in time."

Check out the best photos of the Broncos' linebackers from the 2014 season, including two exquisite celebrations.

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