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Von Miller returns, embraces expectations

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Von Miller knows what's coming.

He knows the expectations he's faced in the past are nothing compared to those he'll see as training camp begins and the Broncos head toward their Sept. 8 opener against Carolina. As players reported on Wednesday, though, Miller said he's ready.

For the target on his back. To reunite with his teammates. To play.

"I've always had high expectations," Miller said. "I don't like coming out and telling the world what I'm going to do because everybody's going to look at me like, 'This guy is crazy. He wants to do this and do that.' I've always held myself to an expectation that nobody else does, not even my teammates. I'm going to continue to beat my standard. I'm going to come out here. I'm going to work. I'm going to be the same type of teammate that I was in the locker room before."

But this certainly hasn't been a normal offseason for the Super Bowl 50 MVP, who never seemed to be in the same place for more than a few minutes. That didn't seem to take away from his training, though. During his whirlwind tour of a summer that took him through "Dancing with the Stars," the ESPYs and dozens of photo shoots, Miller said he still found time to work out. The timing of the workouts fluctuated -- Miller said he made his way to the gym at all hours of the night -- but he never ventured far from playing shape. As he said, "dancing is completely different from dancing on the football field." So while he hasn't thrown on a helmet or shoulder pads in months, he seemed convinced on Wednesday that he wouldn't struggle to adjust to the demands of training camp.

"I've never really got too far away from football," Miller said. "I was doing a lot of stuff. I was here and I was there, but I never got too far away from the locker room—my guys in the locker room. I still watched film, still stayed in tune with who I was. The Von Miller on the football field makes all of this go so I never really got away from all of this. Putting on pads and the helmet, and pass rushing, and going against the guys, I haven't done in a little bit, but getting back on the field I'm excited about. I'm fully confident in my ability to get it going again."

The Broncos seem set to take a more cautious approach. Head Coach Gary Kubiak said Miller is among the players he has working on a progression plan that will include some field work and some time with Strength and Conditioning Coach Luke Richesson.

"We'll build him up to get him to where he's at," Kubiak said. "I think he's worked, but it hasn't been with us. We have to take a look at that as we go, and Luke and [Head Athletic Trainer] 'Greek' [Steve Antonopulos] will be on top of that."

The credit for Miller's presence at training camp lies largely with Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager John Elway, who continued his streak of signing franchise-tagged players to long-term deals.

Perhaps more importantly, Elway helped to provide future stability on a defense -- and team -- that has seen its fair share of changes over the course of the offseason. With the contract negotiations finished and tucked away, Miller's focus can rest solely on football.

"I had a meeting with Von this morning," Elway said. "It was the first time I'd had a chance to talk to him since we agreed to the contract. ... All of a sudden, standards and expectations are going to go way up, and I think he is aware that they're going to be there. I think he'll do just fine with it. He has a tremendous amount of talent. The first five years, he's done a tremendous job, but [I] really believe that he's just touched the surface and has a chance to get even better."

Elway isn't the only member of the organization glad to have Miller back. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who has plenty to focus on in his own right as the offense searches for a quarterback, said Wednesday he was "relieved" to have "his son" at camp with the Broncos.

"We were happy to have him back," Thomas said. "He was the MVP of the Super Bowl, [the] playoffs. He was lights out. Nobody was able to block him."

Now, he's back with the Broncos and ready to replicate that output. The crazy offseason is over. The dancing shoes and drones are stowed away.

Miller seems ready to march toward the season -- and the expectations -- in hopes of a repeat performance.

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