It isn’t always easy to impress Von Miller – especially if you’re a quarterback. The Denver Broncos All-Pro linebacker is a tough competitor and has a take-no-prisoners approach to rushing the quarterback.
So it is telling that he heaped praise on Los Angeles Chargers’ Phillip Rivers. But the way Rivers is playing in his 15th season, he has earned Miller’s respect.
“I honestly feel like he is an elite quarterback in this league,” Miller told reporters on Thursday. “If he had a setup like some of the other elite quarterbacks, he would have multiple Super Bowls just like those guys. I’ve got a lot of respect for Philip Rivers and the L.A. Chargers and all the talent they have over there.”
Miller said his attitude toward Phillips changed when he got to know him a couple of years ago.
“I didn’t used to always like going against Philip,” Miller said. “I really didn’t like the guy until like two years ago at the Pro Bowl. When I met him and we kicked it at the Pro Bowl, I was just blown away by what type of guy he was on and off the football field. I’ve got a lot of respect for him just from being around him at the Pro Bowl.”
Phillips hasn’t garnered the headlines this season with the breakout seasons of Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff of the L.A. Rams, but he is quietly putting together a career years for the 7-2 Chargers. He has passed for 2,459 yards, 21 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Phillips is on track to throw a career-best 37 touchdown passes and rack up his 10th season of more than 4,000 passing yards.
As much respect as Miller has for Rivers, he’ll still be trying to get at him Sunday in L.A. Miller leads Denver with nine sacks, one more than rookie linebacker Bradley Chubb, and is moving up the list of career sack leaders.
“I lick my chops every week, and definitely [against] the Chargers,” Miller said. “Every team that I play, I have that mindset, ‘It’s going to be a three-sack, four-sack game.’ It’s no different going into this game.”
INJURY UPDATE: The Broncos are expected to get three key players back and another to bolster the receiving corps.
Running back Royce Freeman (ankle), cornerback Bradley Roby (ankle) and safety Darian Stewart (neck) were all full participants in Thursday’s practice. Rookie receiver DaeSean Hamilton also increased his practice time Wednesday.
Hamilton should see more action with the trade of Demaryius Thomas two weeks ago and Courtland Sutton moving into the starting lineup. Hamilton has three catches for 44 yards in seven games.
“He will have an expanded role. That was part of the whole deal to give Courtland and DaeSean more opportunities,” head coach Vance Joseph said. “He will have an expanded role and I’m excited to watch him play. He’s missed a couple weeks, but he’s a good, young player. He’s a good route runner. I’m excited to watch him play.”
Linebacker Brandon Marshall (knee) and safety Dymonte Thomas (ankle) did not practice for a second straight day and their availability for Sunday is in doubt.
LINE CHANGE: Denver’s offensive line is shuffled with the loss of ironman center Matt Paradis to a season-ending leg injury. As expected, Connor McGovern will start in place of Paradis while Eli Wilkinson will play right guard.
“We’ve got some options also with (guard/tackle Billy (Turner), but Eli is going to start there with Connor playing the center,” Joseph said.