Broncos' Dumervil, Miller watch weight to better chase QBs
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Pass rushers Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller are carefully counting calories in their hunger to chase down quarterbacks.
Dumervil has already shed at least 10 pounds this offseason, hoping a skinnier version of him will be that much faster on the field.
In contrast, his sack partner for the Denver Broncos keeps trying to bulk up. Miller, the defensive rookie of the year last season, wouldn't mind packing on another 10 pounds or so to help him fend off bigger offensive linemen.
Pound for pound, these bookend rushers may just be blossoming into one of the league's top tandems. They're “Batman and Robin,” as Miller has taken to calling them, and combined for 21 sacks in 2011.
With Peyton Manning now running the show and possibly putting plenty of points on the board, the dynamic duo figures to be even more potent this time around. Staked to a lead, Miller and Dumervil will be turned loose — just like Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis once were when Manning was starring in Indy.
Imagine the possibilities.
Dumervil and Miller are daring to do just that. That's why they're slimming down and beefing up, respectively.
“I wish he'd given me those 10 pounds that he lost,” cracked Miller, who is listed at 237 pounds but wants to play closer to 250.
Miller is coming off quite a rookie season in which he possibly even surpassed the lofty expectations weighing on his shoulder pads as the No. 2 overall pick.
Sure, he made his fair share of rookie blunders. But the Texas A&M product showed flair on the field, tying a Broncos rookie record with 11½ sacks. The only thing that really stopped him was a cumbersome cast he had to wear late in the season to protect his surgically repaired right thumb.
Now comes the hard part — making the necessary adjustments heading into his second season. Chief among them will be cutting down on mental errors.
“I want to start to play like a vet,” Miller said. “I just want to be in the spots that my teammates expect me to be in for crunch-time situations.”
Manning is helping in that regard. The four-time NFL MVP put Miller and the rest of the defense through quite a workout during three days of voluntary workouts earlier this week.
His ability to exploit certain defensive packages was both valuable and vexing.
“If you're doing something wrong, he's going to find it,” Miller said. “It's not like you can come into the game and say, ‘Oh, we haven't seen this before,' because you're playing with a quarterback like Peyton Manning. He's going to pinpoint those mistakes in practice, so come game time, we'll be ready.”
Miller has already developed quite a rapport with Dumervil. Operating on opposite sides of the defensive line, they frequently met in the middle — the quarterback on the ground before them.
“Me and Elvis' relationship goes beyond just a third-and-long or a first-and-10,” Miller said. “It carries over after hours. We spend a lot of time together and with his competitive nature and my competitive nature, it really makes us both better.
“It's definitely a brotherhood and something that I've never had before. I'm looking forward to seeing where it'd go.”
This could be just the start of a fruitful relationship for these two sack artists, especially with Manning around.
The presence of No. 18 worked out well for Mathis and Freeney, who were frequently handed big leads to protect and could go full steam after the QB, knowing teams had to throw to get back into the game.
To garner more explosiveness, Dumervil watched his weight over the offseason. Nothing fancy, he just drank more fruit-juice concoctions and ate more natural, non-processed food.
Now, he's leaner — and hungrier — than ever.
Just three years ago, Dumervil was the NFL sack king with a club-record 17.
Since then, he's been battling one injury after another. Dumervil missed all of 2010 with a torn pectoral muscle and was hampered last season by a nagging shoulder injury, followed by an ankle ailment. He still finished with 9½ sacks, including a stretch where he had at least a half-sack in eight straight games, and made the Pro Bowl team.
“I feel that at 250 (pounds), my strength is there, my conditioning is there and so it's all about having that endurance throughout the game,” said Dumervil, who was listed at 260 pounds last season. “It's a big year for us as an organization.”
Worried about being pushed around?
“I don't worry about that,” he said. “I'm going to bring it. My strength is better than ever. Exciting times.”
Especially in new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio's system, where he and Miller are sure to shine. The former Jacksonville coach is Denver's seventh different defensive boss in seven seasons, but Dumervil doesn't think things will change all that much.
“I feel at home,” Dumervil said. “It hasn't really felt like a new scheme. He's fiery. He's disciplined. He's technique sound.
“For the most part, we're all speaking the same language.”