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Broncos OLB Miller OK with being a sidekick

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Alex Mayster
Editorial assistant

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Posted April 29, 2011 @ 4:58 p.m. ET
By Alex Mayster

When the Broncos selected former Texas A&M OLB Von Miller with the second overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft, they were looking for a piece to the puzzle, rather than a savior.

A year removed from a four-win season in which the Denver defense ranked dead last in the NFL, it's obvious that adding one player won't change the fate of an entire organization. The Broncos aren't expecting Miller to become a hero in Denver.

And that's just the way he wants it.

"I just want to come here and produce," Miller said at his introductory press conference; dressed in his orange and blue-checkered shirt, eyeglasses and Broncos cap. "Whatever my role is on the team I'll find that and contribute to wins. I just want to come in and help the team win. It's all about wins."

Absent was a flashy watch from his wrist. Unlike so many early picks in recent years, Miller's ego was in check. Asked about playing with DE Elvis Dumervil, a proven star whose game is similar to Miller's, the newly drafted linebacker said he was just looking forward to playing beside him.

"I'm just anxious to get with Elvis and be his sidekick," Miller said. "I'll take on the bad guys for him."

The two figure to form a solid pass rush, which should help the Broncos improve on their league-low 23 sacks from last season. But it wasn't just Miller's blitzing ability that made head coach John Fox, executive vice president John Elway and the rest of the organization pull the trigger.

"It is not just the speed, it is the quickness, the explosion, the lengthy arms; and his first step is as good as I have seen," Fox said. "So, (he has) a lot of tools that we can work with and he seems to have that uncommon ability to be great. As far as the want-to, he is a great young man and we feel like he will represent our organization very well."

Fox has a history of quickly turning things around, with a star pass rusher a key piece of the puzzle.

The Panthers, with Fox at the helm, selected DE Julius Peppers with the No. 2 overall pick in 2002 and Carolina made it all the way to the Super Bowl following his second season.

Miller is similar to Peppers in that they both excel at rushing the passer, but the 22-year-old will have to prove he can excel as a 4-3 linebacker before he can be mentioned in the same sentence as Peppers, a six-time Pro Bowler.

Fox thinks Miller can, citing his long arms and ability to avoid blockers. The DeSoto, Texas, native agrees.

"I think I'm going to adjust pretty well," he said. "At the end of the day, when the ball is snapped, it's all about shedding blocks and making tackles. When I get there I'm going to be extremely excited, extremely anxious to go play football."

But until then, Miller will continue to let the reality that he has achieved a lifelong dream sink in.

He first envisioned himself as a member of the Broncos when his brother found a Photoshopped picture of him in a Broncos uniform on the Internet. Now that he has been drafted, Miller said he would need to remind himself that he's a member of the team 10 times before he goes to sleep at night.

"I'm a fan, and it's pretty surreal to have Mr. Elway here talking about me," Miller said. "It's crazy. I'm just living in the moment."

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