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After beating blocker in practice, Von Miller helps teammate by revealing his secrets

Practice competition means one Bronco wins, another Bronco loses. But Von wants to make sure both win on Sunday.
Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller takes part in drills during NFL football training camp, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, at the team's headquarter in Englewood, Colo.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — There was a Broncos training camp practice last week when Von Miller, the pass rusher, was getting the better of Elijah Wilkinson, the pass-rush blocker.

Good for Von and the Denver defense; bad for Elijah and the Broncos’ offense.

Besides having the competitive gene, Miller is also a nice guy who has never publicly criticized a teammate.

Miller didn’t win every one-on-one pass rush against Wilkinson on Tuesday. But it was one of his most dominant days in camp. Isn’t there a part of him that feels bad for the guy he beats?

“No, I don’t feel bad,’’ Miller said in an interview with 9NEWS. “But they’re my teammates and I’m going to help them. And I’m going to give them my secrets. Because I wouldn’t want it to be not challenging for me. I don’t want to find a bead on a guy and get stuck on that and do that every single day."

“I try to mix it up and I reveal my cards to my teammate or guy I’m going against," Miller continued. "I wouldn’t do that for anyone else but with the guys on my team, I reveal my cards and I let him know what I was thinking. And in turn it makes it more challenging for me. He gets to learn on what happened and we can keep practicing.’’

In other words, Miller whips them when it’s time and he helps them when that time is over.

“At the end of the day it’s not about me and him,’’ Miller said. “It’s about Elijah versus (the Chargers’) Joey Bosa. It’s about Elijah versus (the Chargers’) Melvin Ingram. It’s Elijah versus (Kansas City’s) Frank Clark.

“If I can help Elijah and I can help the guys on offense to get better it’s going to help me, in turn, because they’re going to stop these guys from getting sacks," Miller said. "And I’m going to get sacks as well, because I’ll be working to get better in practice.’’

Credit: (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Broncos RT Elijah Wilkerson during rookie minicamp on Saturday, May 13, 2017, at the Broncos' headquarters in Englewood, Colo.

In Wilkinson’s defense, he’s hardly the only right tackle to have had a tough day trying to block Miller. Ask Mike Remmers, Carolina’s right tackle in Super Bowl 50. And ask the offensive tackles who got beat on the 106.0 career sacks Miller has accumulated in just nine seasons – 11.8 per year – to already be tied for 25th in all-time sacks.

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“You know, he’s Super Bowl MVP. He’s Von Miller—58,’’ Wilkinson said in a Zoom media interview last week. “Everybody knows him, but you can’t look at it like that. You can’t be like, ‘Oh, he’s Von Miller,’ or ‘Oh, he’s Bradley Chubb.’ He’s No. 58 and I’m going to hit him.

“I’m not going out there soft setting or being scared to go out there," Wilkerson continued. "You just go out there and you hit him. He’s the same. He puts his pads on just like I do. He puts his pads and helmet on just like I do.

“When you have a guy like that, he’s No. 58. I not thinking about its Von Miller," Wilkerson said. "I’m thinking about my target, where I’m aiming at, how he’s rushing, what I’m going to do to counter it and those kinds of things. You can’t think about all that.”

Wilkinson is also not quite back to 100% physically as he continues to rehab his way from ankle surgery.

But after his tough day Tuesday, Wilkinson’s play has improved, warding off his pass rushers at a high percentage. Apparently, he learned well from the lessons Miller taught.

 “I still compete every single day,’’ Miller said. “I still go as hard as I can. I still talk my trash to the guys and try to get the competition going, but at the same time at the end of practice I let all that go, we watch it all, we bottle it up, we create a new day.

“I tell them what I was doing. I let them know what I did great on that play. I tell them what I was thinking. I give them my cards and reveal my hand and we go back and we play again the next day.”

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