Von Miller, Randy Gregory hope to shake up AFC with Bills, Broncos – USA TODAY

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Last week’s joint practice between the Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys probably felt like something of a reunion for Broncos outside linebacker Randy Gregory.
The pass rusher signed with Denver this spring after spending the first seven years of his professional career with the Cowboys, so there were plenty of familiar faces to catch up with on the practice fields here. He gave a big hug to defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and later, when the Broncos defense and Dallas offense scuffled repeatedly, jumped right into the mix despite the fact he was not actually participating in the practice.
Gregory, who is rehabilitating from spring shoulder surgery he underwent just after signing a five-year contract worth up to $70 million with the Broncos, was activated from the physically unable to perform list Monday and is hoping to play from the regular season’s outset.
“On paper, it looks like we have the unit that we believe we have,” Gregory told reporters this week in his first news conference since signing in March. “Obviously, we have to put the product on the field, but going from one situation to this situation, I think highly of the Cowboys and the career I had there, and I feel the same way about the Broncos and the staff we have here and the players we have here.
“Obviously, me being here, I think I can help in many ways, so I’m really excited.”
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Gregory certainly will not play this weekend in Denver’s preseason game at Buffalo and head coach Nathaniel Hackett indicated most of his healthy starters won’t, either, but the Bills do plan on giving many of their key players some game action. That brings into play the possibility that another highly regarded pass rusher will have a reunion of his own, between Denver and the man Gregory is tasked with helping to replace.
That’s Von Miller, of course, who spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Broncos before being traded midseason to the Rams. He helped Los Angeles win Super Bowl 56 before signing a six-year deal worth up to $120 million ($51 million guaranteed) in Buffalo this offseason.
Last month, Miller returned to Denver to host a fundraising event for his charity, Von’s Vision, which has raised more than $4 million and helped more than 4,000 students from low-income families with eyecare needs in its 10 years of existence.
During a chat with reporters, he repeatedly referred to the Broncos as “we” and made no effort to hide the affinity he still has for the organization with which he won Super Bowl 50.
“You can’t really erase the brotherhood that we created here and I’ll still be a fan of the Denver Broncos,” Miller said. “If the Bills don’t win it, I want the Broncos to win it and it will always be like that.
“We’ve been close in the AFC West for a very long time and now we’ve got Russell Wilson. I want those guys to win as many games as possible.”
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That sentiment and Miller’s status as a Denver franchise luminary will make it something of a bizarre scene on Saturday if he is rushing quarterback Josh Johnson or chasing down running back Mike Boone.
“I know this team like the back of my hand,” Miller said last month. “Russell Wilson and Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton and Albert (Okwuegbunam), man we’ve got Billy Turner and Garett Bolles, Javonte Williams in the backfield. It’s going to be crazy.”
Miller also said he’s been “a huge fan” of Gregory for several years. That pair is now linked in their own way, a set of key offseason additions to AFC teams with playoff and championship aspirations. Gregory appeared set to remain with Dallas on a deal with the same financial terms as the one he ultimately signed in Denver, but he flipped his decision to the Broncos over contractual language the Cowboys wanted about guaranteed money. Gregory has been suspended several times, including for all of the 2017 and 2019 seasons, for violations of the league’s rules on substance abuse.
Miller, meanwhile, is a Dallas native and said he would have considered a return to Denver or the Rams and playing for his hometown Cowboys before landing with the Bills.
Miller racked up 110 ½ sacks with the Broncos before being traded in the middle of the season for two 2022 draft picks (a second-rounder and third-rounder) that ultimately helped Denver acquire enough draft capital to trade for Wilson and also draft outside linebacker Nik Bonitto No. 64 overall.
Denver also signed Gregory to bolster an edge rushing group that the franchise believes can be a strength of the roster and also features Bradley Chubb, Baron Browning and Malik Reed.
Gregory was present for almost all of Denver’s voluntary offseason program. Broncos coaches and players have spoken highly of his assimilation even though he didn’t put pads on until this week and won’t graduate from individual work to team drills until next week at the earliest.
“When we started game-planning a little bit for Dallas, we put a game on just because we wanted to watch and make sure we knew what they were going to be presenting us,” Hackett said recently. “The whole time, it was funny, we’re all looking at each other going, ‘Oh, we’re really happy that guy on our team.’ He’s a dynamic guy. He’s got an unbelievable motor. He is nonstop all throughout the play. He’s physical, he’s fast, he’s a smart player.
“I think all those things that he brings are so great for our football team and watching him rush the edge is going to be something I’m excited to see.”
When Denver and Buffalo play Saturday in the preseason exhibition, the pair of pass rushers will still be getting fully settled into their respective new digs. If they see each other again in January, well, Miller said he would have a hard time imagining what that would look like.
“A game against the (Broncos), I can’t even process those emotions,” he said. “I want those guys to win. I want those guys to be successful. I want all the individual success, all the team success. I love (general manager) George Paton and (former general manager) John Elway. Everything was great. I had a great career here.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Parker Gabriel on Twitter @ParkerJGabriel.

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