ENGLEWOOD, Colo. >> Von Miller doesn’t get too excited about how guys look this time of year.
“You really can’t put too much into OTAs,” Miller said today when asked how much improvement he saw in Denver’s revamped offense. “Last year, I thought during OTAs we were going to win the Super Bowl.”
Asked what it was like playing with a healthier Shane Ray and with rookie Bradley Chubb, the top defender in last month’s draft whose selection sent him into a tizzy , Miller again demurred.
“I mean, it’s the same thing that I said about the offense, you really can’t put too much into it,” Miller said. “You really can’t get too high off a ‘sack’ in practice out here. I mean, I think that’s a joke.”
If you really want to get Miller going, however, bring up his pass rushing summit.
Miller is hosting his second annual gathering of the league’s top quarterback tormentors June 27 to June 29 at the Bass Pro Shops’ Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, Missouri.
“Some guys said they were coming but I don’t want to say their names yet. You know how it is when you’ve got big-money guys walking around they commit to something two months out,” said Miller, who was all smiles now. “We should have a good group of young guys. We got a good group of vets and retired guys that are going to come talk about pass rush and come up with ways on how to beat up some quarterbacks.”
Miller’s first such summit came about organically last year in California.
At the behest of his former position coach Richard Smith, Miller contacted Falcons defensive end Vic Beasley so they could work out together at Stanford University during their summer break between OTAs and training camp.
When word got out, “the media kind of dubbed it the Von Miller Pass Rush Summit,” Miller said. “I was reading the article and I’m like, I should make this happen. So, I invited all the guys that I knew.”
On short notice, he lured Khalil Mack, Olivier Vernon, Malik Jackson, the recently retired DeMarcus Ware, Shane Ray, Cassius Marsh and Cliff Avril, among others.
Miller’s inspiration was former teammate Peyton Manning, whose family holds an annual quarterback camp and who used to gather receivers along with brother Eli at Duke University during his playing career.
“That definitely was the blueprint,” said Miller, who figured if quarterbacks could gather in the offseason to share trade secrets, why shouldn’t pass rushers?
“Whenever you can get guys together who do the same thing that you do to share thoughts, it helps develop you as a pass rusher,” Miller said. “It helps develop the young guys and it’s better for our sport. It absolutely helps the game of football.”
He told The Associated Press at the Super Bowl in Minneapolis that he’d obtained a title sponsor and expected his second annual camp to be even bigger and better than the first. He said he’d invite offensive linemen, too.
“It’s a great space where we can go share knowledge,” Miller said. “It’s the only place where you can do that, it’s the only place where you can get Khalil Mack and Vic Beasley in the same spot — other than the Pro Bowl — and talk about just straight pass rush, what it takes to be a great pass rusher.
“It’s great for everybody around.”
Miller doesn’t have a head count yet, but he’s not worried about nobody showing up to his party.
“I just call the guys around the league. It’s a small fraternity of guys. I know guys on every team,” Miller said. “So, Justin Houston, I can just call him and tell him to invite Dee Ford and the other guys. Andre Branch with the Miami Dolphins, I can just call him and tell him to invite all the guys. Aric Armstead and Cassius Marsh with the San Francisco 49ers, they were already there last year, so tell them to invite the other guys.
“You put the word out and it’s like the ‘Justice League,’ all the (pass rushers) just come out of nowhere.”