Denver If and when the NFL’s $9 billion labor squabble is resolved and rookie Von Miller shows up ready to play, the Broncos may want to send a thank-you note to Dat Nguyen.
As the league’s lockout drags on, the Broncos’ first-round draft pick has spent much of his time in College Station, Texas, working out with former Texas A&M teammates and getting a crash course on the 4-3 defense from Nguyen, a former A&M star who played seven years with the Dallas Cowboys before injuries sent him into coaching.
“He played in the 4-3, did it in the NFL. He knows what to expect, so I’ve been working with him,” Miller said of Nguyen, the Aggies’ inside linebackers coach. “I want to have all of the terminology down, know my responsibilities, so when we get the word I’m ready to come in, line up and play.
“That’s my expectation, to be ready to do what I’m supposed to do in the Broncos’ defense.”
That should be good news to the Broncos, who drafted Miller at No. 2 overall and see him as their starting strongside linebacker.
John Elway, the Broncos’ executive vice president of football operations, has called Miller “the most explosive player” in the draft.
“I know what’s waiting for me when I get there,” Miller said. “That’s what’s got me going these days. I know they expect a lot of me just as soon as things get going, and my expectation is to be that guy. To be the guy that comes in ready to go. That’s how I’ve been approaching it.”
During his first three seasons with the Aggies, Miller played primarily as a pass-rushing outside linebacker and defensive end. He led the nation in sacks with 17 as a junior. He was asked to play a more well-rounded game last season as a senior.
“What’s in the (Denver) playbook looks familiar to me,” Miller said. “On the outside, with contain responsibilities, over the tight end at times and getting to the quarterback when they need me to.”
With the NFL lockout having closed team facilities to players, Miller said it was an easy decision to return to his alma mater to work out.
Since being drafted by the Broncos, Miller has made two trips to Denver. He was at Broncos headquarters the day after he was drafted when the lockout was briefly lifted by a court ruling.
He also attended a John Lynch Foundation event.
“I’m hoping to get back there to work out with (Broncos safety) Brian Dawkins and some of those other guys, at least for a couple days,” Miller said. “I don’t know when yet, but I want to get in there and spend a couple days with everybody.”
Miller has stepped up his conditioning in recent weeks.
“They’re not take-it-easy workouts,” he said. “We’re going hard, we’re really grinding. Because when it’s time to perform, it’s time to perform. I want that and I know the Broncos want it too.”