ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Broncos star linebacker Von Miller says he won't go on IR because of a sprained left MCL that ended his 95-game starting streak.
But he's not sure if he'll start a new streak Sunday when the Denver Broncos (4-8) visit the Houston Texans (8-4).
"I'm still taking it day by day," Miller said Thursday. "I get better every day. If I can't be out there, if I can't get my exotic movements back, then in my opinion I don't feel like I should be out there."
Miller was injured at Buffalo two weeks ago and worked out diligently before the Broncos' game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. But he couldn't perform his side-to-side movements that are integral to his game without pain, so he was deactivated.
That ended Miller's 95-game starting streak that began in 2014 after he missed the Super Bowl following the 2013 season with a torn right ACL, which he suffered five weeks earlier in a win at Houston.
"It was hard. It was extremely hard. I cried real tears, a 30-year-old man," Miller said in his first public comments since his streak ended with the Broncos' 23-20 win over the Chargers.
“As a pro football player, my identity is sewn into playing football,” Miller said. "It's sewn into getting sacks, being out there with my teammates. Just to have that taken away for just a little bit, you know I have other stuff that I can do, everybody knows that I can farm chickens, I'm quite the comedian. But who I am, I play football. And that's what I do well right now and to have that taken away for three hours, I really felt it."
Miller said if he played inside linebacker or defensive tackle, where he only needed his straight-line speed, he could have played. But his position demands the side-to-side movements that were impossible with his injured knee.
"I probably could have just gone out there and ran around and stayed out of action and stuff, but that wouldn't be right for my teammates, to be out there kind of half putting it out there," Miller said. "I would be a liability for my teammates. And I could have done that, I could have just stayed out of action and limped around, but that's not how I play football, that's not what my teammates needed from me."
Miller missed practice last week before a limited session Friday. This week he's participated in both practices so far.
"I feel better. It's not something that I just get over like that. It takes a little bit of healing time but I do feel better," Miller said. "I feel better than what I did yesterday. And that's all I can really hope for."
He made one thing clear: he's not going to shut it down and go on IR.
"No, my main focus is just get healthy and taking whatever time it may take to get it healthy," he said. "I'm already undersized, I already play my position undersized, so when you take away the exotic movements that make me who I am, it changes the type of player that I am. So, I've got to be able to get that back to go out there and play. If I can't, if I don't have that back, then I've got to take time to get that back right."
Miller was hit from the side just as he was about to sack Bills quarterback Josh Allen in the first half on Nov. 24.
"Usually I'm pretty good with injuries and staying out of piles and stuff but that one just found me, and I played for the rest of the game with it and it really didn't bother me until that last four minutes of the game when they were running the ball, I kind of stepped wrong," Miller said.
Miller cheered on his teammates from the sideline and said the pain went away when he ran onto the field following Brandon McManus' 53-yard field goal to win it as time expired, making a winner of quarterback Drew Lock in his NFL debut.
"I loved it. I've been a Drew Lock fan since Day 1," Miller said. “I always try to give him positive energy. I always try to water his seed. ... When he gets that confidence and gets going he's going to be a star. And whatever I can do from an energy standpoint, from a teammate standpoint, I'm going to do.”
Miller was bummed about defensive end Derek Wolfe's elbow injury. After posting two sacks of Philip Rivers, Wolfe dislocated his left elbow on a play that should have been blown dead because of a false start. He went on IR this week, ending his best season, one that featured a career-high seven sacks, and maybe even his eight-year stay in Denver. He'll be an unrestricted free agent in March.
"I hate to see him get hurt like that," Miller said. "We played a lot of football together, so that one was tough."
Notes: Coach Vic Fangio said RT Ja'Wuan James (knee) will be active Sunday. He's missed 10 games and was knocked out in the first half of the two others he started. ... Fangio is less optimistic about RG Ronald Leary, who's in concussion protocol.
Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL