One for the Thumb: Miller ‘Day-to-Day’ After Surgery

Von Miller

Von Miller leads the AFC in sacks, but now must contend with a thumb injury. (PHOTO: ERIC LARS BAKKE / DENVER BRONCOS)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – After four weeks in which the sun shone upon the Broncos in almost every way imaginable, a dark cloud of injury threatens to alter the Broncos’ suddenly bright outlook.

The team’s ascendant rookie linebacker, Von Miller, missed Wednesday’s practice following surgery to repair torn ligaments in his thumb. Miller apparently incurred the injury in the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s win over the Chargers, playing through overtime with the injury. He was seen wearing a protective plastic brace on his hand in the locker room after the game.

Miller didn’t practice Wednesday and his status is “day-to-day,” according to Broncos coach John Fox. But some of his teammates expect that Miller will be in uniform when the team runs onto the field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

“I’m sure he’ll tough it out and be able to play,” said linebacker Wesley Woodyard.

Playing would likely require wearing a protective cast.

“You’ve seen Patrick Willis play with one, Takeo Spikes, numerous guys throughout the years,” said linebacker Mario Haggan, who would likely start at strongside linebacker if Miller can’t play. “I don’t think it’s that hard.

“I’m sure (as) with any guy, if he wants to play, he’ll play.”

But it might not be as simple as putting a protective cast on the thumb — and by extension, his hand and perhaps up his wrist — even though as a defensive player, he’s unlikely to carry or grab the football.

“The thumb is crucial,” Dumervil said. “I mean, I had a pinkie injury a couple of years ago and as a rusher you need your hands. It’s very important.”

Added Woodyard: “With him using his hands rushing the passer, that’s something that’s going to be really tough for him to get used to.”

Dumervil and Miller have been on a tear during the Broncos’ recent four-game winning streak, combining for 10 sacks — 5.5 for Dumervil and 4.5 for Miller. Their collective total represents 83.3 percent of the Broncos’ sack total the last four weeks, and Miller’s 10.5 sacks for the season leads the AFC.

“He’s a big part of what we do,” said Dumervil, who missed Weeks 2 and 3 this year with a shoulder injury. “It creates issues (if Miller doesn’t play) but guys have got to step up.”

NOTES: Wide receiver Eddie Royal and running back Willis McGahee did not practice Wednesday because of a toe injury and illness, respectively. Both are considered “day-to-day,” Fox said …

… Cornerback Tony Carter and wide receiver Greg Orton returned to the Broncos on Wednesday after being signed to their practice squad. They returned after safety Kyle McCarthy and linebacker Mike Mohamed were promoted back to the 53-man roster after spending the last two-plus months on the practice squad. Mohamed was on the 53-man roster in Week 1, while McCarthy saw regular-season work last year before tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in his knee …

… Orton, in a twist of fate, was issued the locker-room stall that previously belonged to a fellow Purdue alumnus with the same surname, quarterback Kyle Orton. The two Ortons are unrelated …

… Greg Orton was issued jersey number 14, which he wore in training camp. Carter wore jersey number 32; he wore 25 during his previous stint with the Broncos.

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About Andrew Mason

Andrew Mason has covered the NFL since 1999, when he worked as an editor on NFL.com when the site was managed by ESPN.com. He worked six seasons (2002-07) covering the Broncos on their official website and two (2008-09) on the Panthers' site. He began MaxDenver.com in 2010 and now contributes to CBSSports.com, The Sporting News and The New York Times.

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