On the Tuesday prior to the Denver Broncos' season-opener vs. the Tennessee Titans, star rush linebacker Von Miller dislocated the peroneal tendon in his ankle in a non-contact drill during practice. After a quick turnaround in which he traveled to get a second opinion and ultimately underwent the surgery to repair it, the Broncos placed him on injured reserve.
Based on everything known about a dislocated peroneal tendon, in conjunction with Miller's age of 31, it seemed like the Football Gods had fated the eight-time Pro Bowler to miss the entire 2020 season. But not long after his surgery, Miller began telling teammates not to completely write off a return to the field in 2020.
Based on reports from sports-medicine doctors in the realm of media, the best-case scenario — and that's if everything went perfectly according to plan — would be a mid-December return for Miller. However, the man himself revealed on Monday a significantly accelerated timetable.
As Miller prepared for an Instagram Live video chat with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker — with the election taking place on Tuesday and with an activists' eye toward using his platform to motivate fans to get out and vote — the former Super Bowl 50 MVP took a question or two from his audience. The first one, it sounds like, came courtesy of Von's mother. How's that ankle is doing?
“My ankle is feeling good," Miller said. "I'm straight. Hopefully in a couple of weeks—I'd say about three weeks to a month—I should be ready to go."
Miller went on to emphasize that, "Yeah, I plan on coming back this year."
Miller was seen at a Broncos practice last week without the boot and scooter he'd used to get around while his ankle healed up. Even head coach Vic Fangio opined about his surprise at seeing an ambulant Miller sans the boot and scooter.
“I was surprised to see him without the boot also," Fangio said last Thursday. "In fact, I went over to him—because I believe it was yesterday that he told me he was going to have to have the boot on until next Wednesday or Thursday. Then when I saw him without the boot on, I asked him about it and he said that they told him he’s making good progress—still a long ways away—and they told him he could go out there without the boot but he still couldn’t do anything obviously.”
Miller might not be as far out as Coach Fangio thinks. But then again, in order for Miller to see the field this year, he'll have to rehab and recover well enough to get rubber-stamped by the Broncos' medical staff and cleared to play.
With the Broncos sitting at 3-4, the mid-way point of the season is this week against the Atlanta Falcons. If Denver can get a win, and claw its way back to .500, all things become possible down the stretch.
It would take quite a lot for the Broncos to officially be playoff-eligible as right now, the team is two games outside of the seventh and final AFC playoff spot. But that's why they play the games.
There are still nine contests left to go and while the Broncos' schedule still promises another matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs, as well as two bouts with the Las Vegas Raiders, and a few other tough opponents like the Buffalo Bills, stranger things have happened. Obviously, though, Miller is intent on returning to the field this season.
It's hard to see that happening without the Broncos being playoff-relevant by the end of November. But if Drew Lock and company can build off their momentous come-from-behind win in Week 8 in which the Broncos overcame a 21-point deficit to beat the Los Angeles Chargers 31-30, you never know what could happen.
Keep in mind, though — this is still an exceedingly young roster that is learning how to win before our very eyes. But it's evident how driven and focused Miller is on returning this year.
The Broncos can do their part to give Miller the best chance possible to return by winning in the month of November. Achieve that and there's a chance this team could get back their No. 1 leader and the face of the franchise in time for a final December push.