EAGAN, Minn. -- Von Miller had diamonds in his teeth. And gold on his mind.
The All-Pro linebacker arrived at the podium Wednesday following the first afternoon of joint practices with the Minnesota Vikings in a reflective mood. He attended Peyton Manning's Hall of Fame induction on Sunday, catching up with teammates, appreciating the accomplishment, leaving motivated to steal a few more scenes before credits roll on his career.
"It was like a football reunion. It was a great time. Peyton’s family was there. Everybody was there that supported Peyton. It was just an incredible time.It was like a football reunion. It was a great time. Peyton’s family was there. Everybody was there that supported Peyton. It was just an incredible time," Miller said.
"That’s everybody’s dream to make it, but I’m still here working on my Hall of Fame resume right now. I want to make that resume as iron clad as I can. It is a tough group to get into. It’s only (346) guys that have been elected—five per year. It’s super, super tough to get into that elite group of people to get that gold jacket. I want that and I want it bad. You sit there and you listen to all these speeches. Of course, you think about it. I just re-invested in myself saying, ‘I have to make sure this happens. I have to leave no mistake on my career so I can get in.’ I still have a lot of time to do it."
Miller believes he can play seven more season. But his focus has narrowed to this season, this team. He admitted this is the most talented group he's been around in at least five years. That was the last competitive Broncos team, narrowly missing out on the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
What has followed since has been nothing short of a tire fire. Four straight losing seasons for the first time since 1963-72, 10 starting quarterbacks, three head coaches and zero games spent above .500 in two years.
"I think this our year to do it," Miller said. "I’m excited about this team and I’m ready to go."
Watching the defense Wednesday makes it easy to create a compelling argument for a winning record when looking at that talent and the schedule. If the Broncos go chalk according to SuperBookSports lines, they will finish 9-8. However, there's the slight issue of the quarterback position.
As in, do the Broncos have one. A starter, that is.
Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater took their turns with the 1s and 2s on Wednesday. Lock started just as he will on Saturday. Bridgewater receives the nod the following week at Seattle.
The offense lacked rhythm. If forced to pick a winner, I'd give Bridgewater the slight edge because he was better situationally in 7-on-7 with two touchdowns, and delivered a catch-and-run 60-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Jeudy that might have been a sack in a real game. Lock showed nice zip on multiple throws, and had a touchdown called back on a penalty. But, he wasn't as sharp in the red zone in 7s, and the Vikings intercepted him in the last period.
I asked Lock if he saw this week as a chance to grab the job by the nape of the neck since he's getting first crack to start.
"Whether I was first or whether I was second, I’m going to go out with the same mindset. Sure, yeah, I’m going to go out there and try to take it, so to say. But no, really, it’s just that I’m going to focus on being the best me while I’m out there, leading the other 10 guys around that offense, go down there and score," Lock said. "But yeah sure, we’ll go grab it, I guess.”
Bridgewater felt at home, looking up in the stands and seeing kids wearing his Vikings No. 5 jersey. That was a long time ago. He has matured, been toughened. He is with his fourth team, so he is keeping a very narrow perspective in this competition.
"Honestly, man -- it’s all going to play out how it’s meant to play out. I can’t think too far ahead. For me when I’m out there, it’s one rep at a time. How can I maximize this one rep. If I’m thinking about, ‘Aw, QB competition’ while I’m taking a seven-step drop, then I’m doing harm to myself and to this team," Bridgewater explained. "It’s just one play at a time for me. I’m trying to become the best player I can be while making sure I’m making the right reads with proper technique. The rest will take care of itself.”
Jeudy puts on moves
Second-year receiver Jerry Jeudy has put out a few Instagram videos of dances. One looked like his head fell off his shoulder. Defensive backs are now the victims of his moves. He put more than a few Vikings defenders on skates, and continues to show out as the Broncos' best offensive player in training camp.
"Jerry Jeudy -- he scares me, man. The way he’s in and out of breaks, he can’t have any ACLs or knees. I wish I had his knees (laughs)," Bridgewater said. "That guy -- the way he’s able to change directions, he makes all of his routes look the same. He’s doing a great job of attacking the ball when we throw it to him across the middle and making plays after the catch. He’s having fun."
Added Lock, "He’s a very tough cover. It’s almost like he has a plan before we snap the ball and how it feels like when we set this guy up—whoever it is. He does a pretty good job of getting open. I’ll say that.”
Von Miller said he wants to play in the preseason, admitting "I need to sharpen the knife." Will he play in the preseason opener? That's up to coach Vic Fangio. Also, Von is on baby watch with his son due any day. So he might not be available on Saturday. ...
Fangio indicated that he expects Bradley Chubb and Courtland Sutton to play at least one game in the preason, but admitted they are not on the same time line. ...
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Justin Strnad continues to show flashes of potential as he fills in for injured inside linebacker Josey Jewell.