ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Von Miller spent the first few hours of his bye week hanging out at Bradley Chubb's golfing event for kids. He spent the last day of the bye week hosting his Western Roundup to raise money for Von's Vision, including $11,000 for dinner at his place in the offseason. In between, a tattoo artist inked a unicorn on his leg because, "I am unique like a unicorn."
Rest, recovery, charity. Miller enters the second half with a clear path to rebound after posting a disappointing four sacks in the first nine games.
"It feels good coming off the bye week with a win. I know my teammates feel rejuvenated. I know I feel rejuvenated," Miller told Denver7 earlier this week. "I have been close to a lot of sacks. So I just want to get some of those in, continue to play hard, and amp that up a little bit more."
Miller projects to finish with seven sacks. Only once has he had fewer, posting five in 2013 when he played nine games due to suspension and injury. Following a doughnut on the stat sheet against the Chiefs, Miller gained traction over the last two games, delivering 1.5 sacks, nine tackles and three quarterback hits.
In the process, Miller, who has played 89 percent of the snaps this season, a roughly 14 percent jump from his career average, has been more demonstrative during games. He and cornerback Chris Harris Jr. represent the team's senior members, leaving a lane for him to assume a bigger profile.
"I have been a little bit more vocal on the sideline, and it feels good. It feels good to push a guy and say, 'Let's Go!' and have him push me back," Miller said. "It gets the guys excited. There's going to be a little more of that, and we are just going to see where it takes us."
Even though the Minnesota game is inside, it does not represent an obvious place to get hot. The Vikings boast one of the league's best offenses. They average 153 rushing yards on 33 carries per game, both ranking third best. Kirk Cousins, once embattled, has found his way. He owns 18 touchdowns and three picks. And he has only been sacked 17 times in 10 games. Gary Kubiak, the Vikings' offensive assistant and former Broncos coach, has helped caffeinate the Vikings attack.
Miller looks forward to facing the man who guided Denver to the Super Bowl 50 title.
"He's a great coach, an incredible coach. He was a manager of personalities," Miller said of Kubiak, who nearly returned as Denver's offensive coordinator for coach Vic Fangio, before a disagreement over the assistants he wanted to bring back with him. "I have had four different head coaches, and he's definitely one of the best. He took care of us, kept everyone healthy and ready to go."
For the Broncos to make an unlikely playoff run, they need more pressure. The Broncos have 19 sacks, tied for 26th overall. Worse, Denver's seven takeaways is tied for 29th. Only the Falcons, with four, have fewer. Getting a lead remains critical. The Vikings have dominated at home, going undefeated in four games while outscoring opponents by an average of 16 points. Into this backdrop walks quarterback Brandon Allen fresh off his triumphant debut.
The Broncos are seeking to build off the momentum he created against Cleveland.
"I want to see more magic. I don't how he does it, running it, throwing it, whatever works," Miller said. "We are going give him all the support and love we can to help be at his best. "
Von sees Lock as Almost Famous
Von Miller walked through the locker room Thursday and told Drew Lock, "When you get famous, take me with you." He repeated his praise for the rookie during his presser. Lock has impressed coach Vic Fangio in his 8-to-10 snaps the past two practices. He believes the time off helped him, made it easier to get through the some of the "mental and physical" issues of learning the position. Miller teased Broncos Country about Lock's potential on Thursday.
"He's going to kill it. He's got everything you need. The other day he ran out and did a little bootleg and he kind of threw it. It was an incomplete pass, but I've seen a lot of good ones play and that was probably the best incomplete pass that I've seen thrown," Miller said. "He's just a star in the making. You saw it with Tony Romo and Aaron Rodgers, and all of those guys. They just blow up and I see the same stuff for Drew. All he has to do is what he's doing. And good karma, and the just the type of guy he is, it's all going to come back to him."
Callahan likely done
Cornerback Bryce Callahan has exhausted all options with his foot injury. He had a screw inserted when he was hurt with the Bears, and it has caused issues with the bones in his foot this season. After visiting multiple specialists, his foot has not improved, leaving him needing an offseason to get healthy. Fangio admitted that it's likely Callahan will land on the injured reserve with the team needing a roster spot for receiver Tim Patrick.
Callahan was a terrific player for Fangio with the Bears, showing acumen covering slot receivers. He signed a three-year, $21 million contract this offseason with $10 million guaranteed. His return with the re-signing of Chris Harris Jr. -- which the Broncos have shown interest in -- could give Denver one of the league's best secondaries.
Fangio admitted it's less than 50-50 that right tackle Ja'Wuan James (left knee) and Jeff Heuerman (knee) play Sunday. ... The Broncos added Cyrus Jones to practice after claiming him on waivers from Baltimore. The primary purpose is to see him as a defensive back with his ability in the return game a "bonus."