INDIANAPOLIS — In need of a defensive differencemaker, the Broncos are in pursuit of arguably the most talented pass rusher in the NFL.
Von Miller, circa 2012.
"He's got to put last year behind him, and hopefully he learned his lesson from last year," general manager John Elway said at the NFL scouting combine. "Hopefully, he gets back to playing football and being the Von that he can be."
Miller had 18½ sacks in 2012, his second NFL season. He had only five sacks in 2013, when he was suspended the first six games for violating the NFL drug policy and suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during Game 15 at Houston.
There is no free agent the Broncos can acquire, or player they can draft, who would have more impact on their 2014 team than a return to form by Miller.
"Your hope is there is a maturation and growth and improvement that's with any player, year to year," said coach John Fox. "We've got a lot of resources, a lot of people working very hard whether medically, spiritually, whatever in that building."
Does he get the sense that Miller has matured?
"You always get that sense with him," Fox said. "He's a good kid. But sometimes, at least in the past, some things have cropped up (laughs). That's why you hope he's moved forward."
Old men in the middle. The Broncos' starting linebacker the past two seasons was a combined 73 years old: Keith Brooking was 37 in 2012, and Paris Lenon was 36 last season.
So it would make sense for Denver to get younger at that position.
Problem is, middle linebacker has dropped down the list of position priorities in the NFL because that player now is smaller to play in pass coverage or comes off the field in pass situations.
"That position's changed," Elway said. "He's not a big thumper anymore. You don't have the Harry Carsons and big guys inside, the 265 pounds and all they're doing is head-butting guards all the time. Now they have to be able to cover. You'd love to be able to find that guy who can play three downs. That's why Danny (Trevathan) has done such a good job for us. Sure, you'd like to find that guy. But they're hard to find."
Omaha! Peyton Manning will be the featured speaker at the Omaha Sports Banquet on May 15.
Manning was heard shouting "Omaha! Omaha!" through the CBS field mic as he delivered the cadence during the Broncos' home playoff game against San Diego.
Social media quickly turned "Omaha!" into a sensation. The Broncos have used "Omaha" as part of their cadence since the 2009 season — with Josh McDaniels and Kyle Orton — but it took Manning and the field mic to make it into a big deal.
Omaha companies pitched in to make a $67,300 donation to Manning's PeyBack Foundation as thanks for the publicity.
Manning's "Omaha!" cadence can mean anything. Many believe the "O" in Omaha signals an audible to run the play in the "opposite" direction. It can also be a dummy call and mean nothing.
Fox contract update. Elway and Bob Lamonte, Fox's agent, had an encouraging discussion Saturday regarding a contract extension for the coach who has guided the Broncos to three consecutive AFC West championships and a Super Bowl berth.
Contract extensions typically are more time-consuming than first-time or rollover contracts, so it may take a few weeks to get a new deal done.
Fox is entering the final year of his contract.