CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- You can't give yourself a nickname. It sprouts organically, the result of an action, appearance, defining moment or hilarious misstep. In similar fashion, a captain honor must be earned. It reflects not only production, but more importantly leadership and commitment.
Wednesday, the Broncos named their captains: outside linebacker Von Miller and cornerback Aqib Talib (defense), quarterback Trevor Siemian and receiver Demaryius Thomas (offense) and kicker Brandon McManus
It marked the first time for Miller.
"It's incredible feeling," Miller said. "I've always felt like I was a captain, but it's official now."
Miller began taking on added responsibility, in earnest, two seasons ago. Following teammate DeMarcus Ware's lead, Miller began tutoring players during practice, sharing diet habits, while adding them to his maniacal workout routines. He had long been a glue guy in the locker room, a binding force for team gatherings, often at his house. This spring, with the leadership void obvious a year removed from Peyton Manning and Ware retired, Miller approached coordinator Joe Woods about an expanded role.
"He wanted to do more," Woods said.
Miller has been an active presence in meetings, and a motivating force at practice. It is hard to take it easy in a drill when you see arguably the league's most talented defensive player pushing like he's trying to make the team.
"He does everything right. He's a true professional," said veteran defensive lineman Domata Peko, who is in his 12th NFL season. "Everyone looks up to him."
As Peko was explaining Miller's value, Von sat at his locker helping a young rookie. This is who he has become. Miller's ability demands attention.
Siemian, meanwhile, received a captain stripe the second time -- he was half-season captain a year ago -- through his toughness, hard work and dedication.
"It's an unreal honor for me. We have so many leaders in the locker room, it's just cool to be part of it," Siemian said.
There is no stuffing the ballot box. Either guys see you as The Man, or they don't. No arguing the point. Siemian, in his third season and his second starting, wins over teammates with consistency and reliability.
"When you are a good human being that goes miles. For instance, I come in here early in the morning and Trevor's already been in here working. That tells you he's a quarterback with a lot of potential," right tackle Menelik Watson told Denver7. "I love the way this team is coming together."
The defense could have gone any number of directions for captains with defensive end Derek Wolfe, cornerback Chris Harris Jr. and linebacker Brandon Marshall among those who set the daily tone. In Miller's case, however, it is fitting. When your best player is also your hardest worker, it typically creates a we-not-me vibe that forms strong roots.
Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett knew he would be ready when he rushed the passer in training camp during his first week back. He made contact with the tackle and had to put weight on his left hip and leg. When there were no issues, he believed he was home free. He sees no reason for a play count on Monday. He is prepared to do whatever the Broncos ask in the season opener.
"I feel really, really, really good. I am ready to be out there playing." Barrett told Denver7.
Even if Barrett is available for 30 plays, it can help Miller. Miller will get double team. That never changes. But the opposite side outside linebacker needs to win one one one matchups to force the offense to react. Another thing that is likely: look for the Broncos to find ways to move the outside linebackers around to create pressure as Denver did last year with its NASCAR package.
Lynch updates health
I talked to Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch today. He continues rehabbing his right shoulder. He donned a sling as he walked off the practice field, but not in the locker room. Lynch told me there's no plan yet when he will resume throwing. He is letting it heal, and following the trainers' blueprint. Lynch has some experience with this as he injured his AC joint in college.
"But in that case, I never missed a game," Lynch said.
Lynch's return is uncertain -- it could be a month, two months or longer -- leading the Broncos to reunite with Brock Osweiler.
Thomas returned to practice, and is expected to be full go for the Chargers. ... Defensive lineman Zach Kerr (knee) did not work out, leaving him in a race to be ready for the opener. ... Broncos Vance Joseph made it simple on why the Broncos added running back Jonathan Williams. "He's a good player. He's explosive," Joseph said of Williams, who is wearing No. 30 on the practice squad. ... Siemian said his family is preparing to attend Monday's game. They might leave south Florida sooner than expected because of Hurricane Irma. ... Safety Will Parks credits T.J. Ward for serving as a mentor. When he described the defense's strength, he accidentally listed Ward as a member. "I appreciate the intensity he brought, and when he delivered a big hit and stand over the player like it was a dead body," Parks said.