Von Miller predicts 2017 will be his best season yet

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Von Miller swears missing the Denver Broncos' offseason program last year didn't adversely affect his play. Still, after coming up short in his bid to win Defensive Player of the Year and defend his Super Bowl title, he's thrilled to be working out with his teammates this spring.

Miller called these initial workouts under new coach Vance Joseph ''extremely important'' in his quest to lead the Broncos back to the playoffs and fulfill his pledge to have his best season in 2017.

''Last year, I was like, `Man, you don't really need OTAs. You can train on your own.' But you really need these,'' Miller said Tuesday. ''The National Football League is so competitive, so the more time that you can get to perfect your craft with your teammates'' the better.

Miller's 2016 offseason was a whirlwind of global flights and TV appearances including ''Dancing with the Stars.''

''Honestly, I didn't even know my helmet was missing,'' Miller said.

Investigators who located Tom Brady's missing Super Bowl jerseys in Mexico also found Miller's Super Bowl 50 helmet , which he said is back in Denver.

Miller signed a seven-year, $114.5 million contract at the deadline last summer after skipping the Broncos' entire offseason program. Then, he collected 13 1-2 sacks and a career-best 78 tackles in 2016. But he went without a sack over the final month of the season as the Broncos missed the playoffs by one game and Oakland defensive end Khalil Mack edged him by a single vote for Defensive Player of the Year.

''I pretty much didn't have an offseason last year with so much stuff (going on),'' Miller said. ''And I wasn't going to use that as an excuse. I lost by one vote. ... I got close this year. If we were able to make the playoffs or I was able to make a few more plays, who knows where we would have been?''

Miller said he's moved past the disappointment.

''I'm not going to stay stuck in the past. I'm moving forward,'' Miller said. ''This Von coming up is going to be the best Von that I put forward. It's going to be my best year. That's what I'm going for. I have a full offseason, full OTAs, I'm going to be here training every single day. It's not all that noise on the outside from the contract and this and that and doing all this stuff. Not that that was a big deal for me, but now it's just all football. I'm here, I'm settled in and it's time to go play.''

Asked if he felt better physically than he did a year ago, Miller said: ''I was on Dancing with the Stars at this time. I was probably 230 pounds. You know, I'm definitely feeling a whole lot better, getting rest and being able to sleep.''

Miller got his vacations out of the way after the season ended, taking in Drake concerts in Dublin, Paris and Amsterdam.

Meanwhile, DeMarcus Ware retired .

''That's tough. It's just like when Peyton (Manning) left. You can't really just fill that void. You've got to just modify the team and move on,'' Miller said. ''Other leaders will step up.''

He's also thrilled by the additions of run-stuffers Domata Peko and Zach Kerr.

''Have you seen those guys? Those guys are huge,'' Miller said. ''Peko, he's athletic. We were working out today and I was like, `Yeah, he's going to be great for us.' So, just by looking at those guys you can already tell that they're going to fill and correct some of those weaknesses that we had last year.''

Also gone is defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who joined the Rams and was replaced by former secondary coach Joe Woods.

''Coach Phillips will go down as one of the best defensive coordinators to ever coach the game. But Joe is a good coach as well,'' Miller said. ''It's not like we're just going to totally abandon what we did last year.''

As for Joseph, who replaced Gary Kubiak in January, Miller said: ''I love him already,'' and said Joseph ''connects well'' with all the big personalities in the Broncos locker room.

Miller said he hung out with fellow Texas A&M alum Myles Garrett , an edge rusher that many, including Miller, expect to be the top pick in the draft.

''He's A-1,'' Miller said. ''I haven't come across somebody that young with that type of mentality. He studied architecture and paleontology and all of these dope studies. ... Right now he's going to the AFC North and I don't see anybody up there that's really going to be able to handle him.''

NOTES: Former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, keynote speaker Tuesday at the annual Boy Scouts sports breakfast, said he wasn't disappointed that his son Kyle got passed over for the Broncos head coaching job. ''I was just glad that they gave him an interview,'' Shanahan said. ''But either way, I was hoping that he'd go to a team that's had some history of winning. And luckily enough, San Francisco does.''

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Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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