CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Von Miller returned punts. He ran with the kickoff return team. He incited the crowd to clap in unison. And, after a drink of water, staged a pass rushing clinic on Friday.
Miller has such spectacular athleticism -- with a boxer's reach and Teenage Mutant Turtle quadriceps -- that stopping him from reaching the backfield is exasperatingly difficult. Friday, it proved pointless, prompting the question: Is it possible Miller -- a five-time All-Pro with the sixth most sacks through six seasons in NFL history -- is getting better?
"Von is going to find something he can improve. And if he can't, he just pushes his physical ability as far as he can go," said fellow outside linebacker Shane Ray. "Everybody saw the offseason training regime he put himself through, and what he's been doing -- and that's all because he wants to be defensive player of the year and be the best, if not the greatest to ever play our position."
Miller started by winning the unofficial award as the Broncos best player on the field Friday. In line drills, he staged a breathtaking show. He went around right tackle Menelik Watson. He went under Watson. Watson, ever the competitor, asked for a third rep and briefly slowed Miller's path to the quarterback.
Watson fared much better than left tackle Ty Sambrailo, who is alternating on the first team with rookie Garett Bolles. On the first snap, Sambrailo had barely come out of his stance when Miller disappeared into the clear. The next step required squinting to see if Sambrailo laid a hand on Miller.
So it goes. Motivated and hungry to raise his level of play, Miller continues to benefit from a more focused offseason that included team work and no contract distraction. Madden 18 rated Miller a 99, a top mark shared by quarterback Tom Brady and defensive lineman Aaron Donald.
"I have been working out a little bit with him in the offseason. He's been doing some strange workouts, but it's definitely helping him," said cornerback Bradley Roby of Miller, whose social media guru even dropped weight documenting Miller's conditioning routine. "Just look at how cut and fit he is (body fat is lowest in his career). He's the best player I have ever played with and he could be the best to ever play."
Following Miller on Snapchat was exhausting, let alone lifting with him. He trained in San Francisco, Dove Valley and parts unknown. While he didn't shed his unique quirks -- he received a young money tattoo while on a charter flight to Atlanta -- he locked in with his fitness. He understands the importance of leading with DeMarcus Ware retired. It shows up during his conversations in practice with Bolles and fellow teammates.
"I am the new DeMarcus Ware," Miller said. "I am now the old guy in the room."
In meetings, perhaps. On the field, regardless of age, he has no match.