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All Pro linebacker Von Miller returns to the Broncos' lineup Sunday following a six-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Many have told me he is in the best shape of his life and seemingly has a renewed focus on making smarter decisions.
Miller, who will be suspended for an entire season if he fails to abide by every detail of the NFL's drug-testing policy, reported for practice at 270 pounds last week -- he entered the NFL around 240 pounds -- still displaying the kind of blinding speed that hastened his development, but now with an upper body to match the power in his legs and trunk.
Miller has paid much better attention to his diet, and notoriously late and absent-minded at times, has been more prompt and focused, sources said. In addition to working out at the Broncos' facility during his suspension, he spent time working with Chuck Smith, an esteemed pass-rushing coach. He has also spent more time watching film and taking a more nuanced approach to the game, team sources said.
“He's been more focused,” said one source who has been in close contact with Miller. “He's a better listener. He's more thoughtful with his word choice. He's always been great at saying the right thing and telling you what you want to hear, especially when it comes to conditioning and diet and that stuff, but now he's actually stepping up and doing it.”
No one is projecting or guaranteeing him being changed for good, and his deeds will carry more weight than any words right now (Miller himself is aware of this), but the Broncos have been quietly impressed with how he has handled himself the past few months. While he may be rusty, having missed so much time, the staff also would not be surprised if he made a quick impact Sunday night playing on a fast surface in a dome against a Colts offensive line that isn't loaded with acclaimed pass protectors.