CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The evolution of Von Miller played out before my eyes.
Last Monday, between first-team snaps, Miller pulled aside rookie left tackle Garett Bolles. He worked with Bolles on his feet, his hand placement, on nuances to prevent the former Utah star from tipping off a fang-bearing pass rusher of his intent.
The scene looked strikingly familiar. It played out countless times the previous three seasons. Except DeMarcus Ware served as the teacher. Miller credits Ware, a player he grew up idolizing, for arriving at the perfect time in his life. Ware helped Miller mature, sharing everything from pass rush tips to diet and sleeping advice.
Ware retired, but Miller continues to pay it forward, filling the vacuum.
"I am the new DeMarcus in the room now. It's crazy how sudden that happens," Miller said. "It's a role that I was prepared for and had great examples to follow."
Miller spoke with defensive coordinator Joe Woods this offseason about taking on added responsibilities. Everything is different. Ware exited, leaving to pursue a career in broadcasting. And Miller is present. He missed all of last offseason while angling for a contract following the team's placement of the franchise tag on him.
"He told me that he was prepared for a larger leadership role. I bounce around from meetings, and in his meetings he's the voice. His teammates see him that way," Woods said. "They can see how he's working at practice. They can see how much it matters to him."
No one is more aware than Bolles. Miller has taken to the rookie. Bolles is not a kid, turning 25 last month. The Broncos appreciate his intensity, and enthusiasm. Miller sees the wag in the puppy's tale, and loves it. The pair has talked repeatedly over the last few weeks. It happened organically, leading to the scene at practice last week.
"Oh yeah. You know I really like Bolles. It's bigger than just trying to help him so he can become a great rookie. I see a lot of similarities in who I was when I first came into the league," Miller told Denver7. "I am spending a lot of time with him not just on the football field but in the locker room. We are the last ones out of the the locker room. He's goofy like me. He asks a million questions. I like kicking it with Bolles. He's a good dude."
Miller's mentoring has not gone unnoticed. He became the face of the franchise when he signed his contract. He is now becoming an older brother figure.
"It's not offense. It's not defense. It's wefense," Woods explained to Denver7. "Von understands that it's about making the entire team better."