ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --It won't be easy to make up for the absence of a two-time Pro Bowler that has accumulated 30 sacks in his first two NFL seasons.
But that's exactly what Head Coach John Fox expects his team to do with Von Miller facing a six-game suspension for violating the NFL's Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.
"However you look at it, we're not going to have him for six weeks," Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway said. "I think the players will look at it and rally around Von and help Von but also understand the work that we have to do."
Elway said the process of moving on without Miller for the first six games of the regular season will be helped by the fact that in training camp, "everybody got the reps" as the team knew there was a possibility Miller could be suspended.
Fox added that at this point in the preseason, the backups have gotten more reps than the first team.
"We'll have a plan," Fox said. "We're going to have to have guys play better. Everybody is going to have to step up. I know it is, 'Next man up,' but he's a hard man to replace, (and) the guys around him have to play better. The guys on the other side of the ball have to play better and that'll be the challenge to our team."
But Fox and Elway both expect it to be a rallying cry, not something that deflates the team.
"I would hope we are more mentally tough than that," Fox said.
While Fox and Elway took questions from the media shortly after the suspension was announced, Miller did not meet with the media on advice from union attorneys. The NFLPA released a statement on the linebacker's behalf.
Miller will be permitted to lift with his teammates and attend meetings during his suspension -- he just won't be allowed to practice or play. And Fox said that Miller will suit up on Saturday against the St. Louis Rams, as he has "two more weeks to get ready for after (the) six-week (suspension)."
Elway said he's glad Miller will be around his teammates to see their support, and he'll be able to watch how they overcome the adversity the suspension brings.
"Any time you lose a player like Von, it's going to hurt you, but to be a great football team -- this isn't going to be the last bump we have this year," Elway said. "There are different things we're going to have to go through, that we're going to have to deal with." Dealing with Miller's absence on the field will fall on some of the linebacker's teammates. But all of them will be there to help him through the process.
"This is a family, whether it's the teammates or the coaching staff, and we're going to support him," Fox said. "He's done a lot of good things; he's not a bad kid. He's played a lot of great football here in his two years. He's a tremendous player and we'll miss him for those six games."