Elite pass rushers, friends Mack, Miller meet again Sunday


FILE – In this Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, file photo, Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller eyes Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott during the first half of an NFL football game in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File)

ENGLEWOOD | Von Miller has what Khalil Mack wants: a Super Bowl ring. And Mack has what Miller would love to add to his mantle: the NFL Defensive Player of the Year trophy.

Mack beat out Miller by a single vote last year after the Raiders reached the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and the Broncos saw their five-year playoff run come to an end.

The two are good friends who spent time last summer teaching their craft to other elite pass rushers across the NFL at a pass rushing summit Miller held at Stanford.

“To have Khalil Mack go up there and talk about some of the stuff that he does on his rushes was awesome,” Miller said.

“When I’m watching those guys on film at Dove Valley, I think I know what’s going on, I think I know their mind process, I think I know exactly what they’re thinking. But until you have those guys tell you exactly what they’re thinking in front of everybody else there’s no other moment like that when it comes to learning and developing as a pass rusher.”

Miller and Mack gather again Sunday when the Raiders (2-1) visit the Broncos (2-1).

Their teammates, particularly the quarterbacks and tackles, needn’t worry about them sharing pass rushing secrets last summer, Miller said, because a lot of things they took away from the gathering was more mental than physical.

“Khalil Mack stood up there and he just has brute strength. There’s nobody in the National Football League that can do the type of stuff that he was doing,” Miller said.

And no one that can do exactly what Miller does.

“They’re different players, obviously,” Broncos QB Trevor Siemian said. “I think what you see Khalil Mack do a lot of is just go right through people and crush them. I think Von can do that, too, but just different players.”

Broncos coach Vance Joseph said Mack is bigger and Miller “is a better space player than he is.” But, “they’re both guys who can wreck a game.”

“You’re glad when you have one of them, I know that,” said Raiders coach Jack Del Rio, who used to coach Miller as Denver’s defensive coordinator. “It was great having Von and it’s certainly great having Khalil. They’re both outstanding players.”

STANDING UP: The Broncos players say they’ll be “standing together” Sunday, a week after 32 players knelt during the national anthem after President Donald Trump called for owners to fire any players who protested during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The Broncos’ leadership council met Wednesday. The group consists of about 20 players, including linebackers Von Miller and Brandon Marshall, who both knelt, and defensive end Derek Wolfe, who was adamant about standing for the flag. They relayed their decision to Joseph, who has said politics and sports shouldn’t mix.

The Broncos then relayed the players’ message on their official Twitter account.

The players said so many players decided to kneel “in a powerful display of unity” and added, “Make no mistake — our actions were in no way a protest of the military, the flag or those who keep us safe. We have nothing but the deepest love and respect for those who protect our way of life and the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.”

“While there’s no greater country, it’s not perfect. Inequalities still exist, and we have work to do in ALL forms of social justice,” the players’ statement continued.

“We may have different values and beliefs, but there’s one thing we all agree on: We’re a team and we stand together — no matter how divisive some comments and issues can be, nothing should ever get in the way of that,” the players concluded. “Starting Sunday, we’ll be standing together.”

Joseph said he hopes the protests are over.

“There’s going to be more distractions, guys,” Joseph said, “… This issue is behind us, I’m hoping. There’s a football game on Sunday and that’s what’s important.”

Notes: Rookie CB Brendan Langley (knee) was a full participant at practice for the first time since Sept. 9. … KR Cody Latimer (knee) was held out and CB Bradley Roby (ankle) was limited after missing Wednesday’s workout.