DENVER (AP) The reshaping of Von Miller’s image and physique are well under way.
After a rough 2013 season that began with a six-game drug suspension and ended with a blown out knee in December, the Denver Broncos pass-rusher showed up for his foundation’s inaugural event at Sports Authority Field Monday night 20 pounds lighter and with a rediscovered smile.
In between posing with kids for selfie photos on their cellphones, Miller helped hand out prescription glasses to 104 underprivileged children.
”I can’t even put into words how it makes me feel, especially through all the stuff that’s been going on and still be able to do stuff for the community and do some positive, it’s great,” Miller said.
The glasses provided by his Von’s Vision foundation for the kids ages 6-13 ”could be a game-changer in the classroom,” said Miller, who’s known almost as much for his big-frame glasses he sports off the field as for his tormenting of QBs on it.
Miller has kept a low profile this offseason, save for trying to get into the Seahawks’ Super Bowl party following Seattle’s 43-8 win over Denver, a game Miller watched from the sideline after undergoing knee surgery to repair a torn right ACL in January.
Miller, however, insisted this charity event had nothing to do with rehabilitating his image that took a beating last year.
”I’m not too big on the perception of the fans. In time everybody will see the type of guy that I am and the type of things that I do,” Miller said. ”I can’t rush that. But the guys in the locker room, my teammates, the people who are close to me, they know what type of guy I am.”
Still, TV shots of Miller mingling and laughing with kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs in the Denver area are a welcome sight for the Broncos, who witnessed several missteps by Miller last season, including an arrest at a local gun club for a missed court appearance.
Broncos general manager John Elway said this offseason that he believes Miller, who turned 25 last month, has matured and needs to put last year behind him.
What was clear Monday night is that Miller’s frame is back to what it was in 2011 and `12 before he bulked up to 270 pounds last season, 24 more than what it was when the Broncos made him the second overall pick out of Texas A&M in 2011.
Miller said he’s down to about 250 pounds.
”I’m great right there,” he said.
Miller said he began light running two weeks ago: ”Not nothing like marathon stuff but I’ve been getting back into the motion. I’m feeling good about it. I don’t have a timetable or anything like I want to be back Aug. 3 or anything like that. But today I’m ahead of schedule and I’m feeling good,” Miller said.
He said he hopes to be back to 100 percent by the season opener.
”I want to play every game this year,” Miller said. ”I would like to play every game. But if it’s not there, it’s not there. I don’t want to put any limitations on where I want to be at or this or that. I’m just going to grind and attack every day and I truly believe it’ll work out.”
Miller said Adrian Peterson’s remarkable recovery from a torn ACL to an MVP season two years ago set a new standard in the NFL.
”He definitely set the bar high and it’s a great thing. It’s a great challenge and I embrace it and I’m hoping I can grind and do something similar,” Miller said.
Miller, who had just five sacks in nine games last season after collecting 30 his first two seasons, including a team record 18 1/2 in 2012, said he believes his best years are ahead of him, especially now that DeMarcus Ware in his teammate.
”I mean, I’m 25 years old. I’m hoping that my coming years are better than my first two,” he said. ”Every year I get smarter with the game. You recognize stuff faster. The game is a little bit slower. Vets told me when I first came in that was going to happen. I think it’s starting to happen.”
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AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton can be reached at astapleton(at)ap.org or follow him at http://twitter.com/arniestapleton