Ed Andrieski, Associated Press
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Crane operators have taken down the "Invesco Field" reminders at what the locals steadfastly refer to as Mile High Stadium, replacing them with "Sports Authority Field" signs.
While the new sponsors spruce up the place, it might be a good time to knock the dust off of the old "Orange Crush" nickname, too — and maybe even remove the "C."
Call these 2011 Denver Broncos the "Orange Rush."
Elvis Dumervil missed all of last season after leading the league with 17 sacks in 2009. While he was recovering from a torn chest muscle, the Broncos endured their worst season ever, but their reward for 4-12 was the second overall selection in the draft.
They used it to scoop up Texas A&M pass rusher Von Miller, who collected 27½ sacks the last two seasons. Hall of Famer John Elway, who rejoined the team last winter as its chief of football operations, called Miller a once-in-a-decade talent and thought it was appropriate he chose No. 58 in honor of the late Derrick Thomas, whom many scouts compared him to.
"Doom & Gloom," as they're being called, are already drawing comparisons to the NFL's most feared quarterback harassing tandem of Pro Bowlers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis in Indianapolis.
"Fastest dudes I done seen off the ball," Broncos linebacker Joe Mays said after watching them sandwich Seattle's Tarvaris Jackson all night long during the preseason. "They can rival the Colts' defensive ends right now."
Miller and Dumervil combined for 3½ sacks in limited action against Seattle that night and knocked Jackson around plenty of other times.
"If we can keep that up all year, we're going to have a good year," Champ Bailey predicted.
Hue Jackson, who makes his Raiders head coaching debut Monday night against the Broncos, has certainly noticed the difference the duo makes to Denver's defense, which was the worst in the NFL last year.
"Have I watched them? Are you kidding me? These guys are a highlight reel," Jackson marveled.
With Dumervil back on the field and Miller on board, the Broncos believe they can make up for weaknesses elsewhere to return to respectability in 2011.
"Those two guys should have great years as pass rushers because they're both exceptional edge rushers and Von is an exceptional-exceptional," Broncos defensive line coach Wayne Nunnely said. "He does some things that are just unbelievable, his quickness to get off of the ball and his ability to get on the edge of the blocker and turn his hips to the quarterback ... it's just natural for him.
"He's as good as I've seen."
Miller led the nation in sacks in 2009 with 17, but decided to return to Texas A&M for his senior season. Aggies coach Mike Sherman, who used to coach the Green Bay Packers, moved him from defensive end to hybrid linebacker to capitalize on what he called his "freakish athletic ability."
He had 10½ sacks as a senior even though a high ankle sprain limited him for the first month of the season.
"Oh yeah, Coach Sherman definitely got me ready for this year," Miller said. "The responsibilities he put on me coming back for my senior year to be a traditional linebacker and all the responsibilities that I had (as a team captain), it definitely helped me out for my rookie season."
Sherman said Miller will be a perennial Pro Bowler.
"I mean, I've never seen a guy like him," Sherman said. "He could have been our tailback. He could have been an All-American tight end. He could return punts and kickoffs. He's just a phenomenal athlete."
Of course, there's one big caveat to this sack attack.
- The 1996 NBA Draft redone: How did the Jazz...
- 5 things to look for as BYU heads into fall camp
- Morning links: BYU's Taysom Hill's future...
- Dick Harmon: Hanging with legacy players of...
- 5 things Utah football needs for coming season
- Brad Rock: Hill, Keeton, Booker not the best...
- Randy Hollis: Utah's Perrins is one of the...
- 5 things to watch for as BYU, Utah and USU...
- Dick Harmon: Big 12 expansion talk... 113
- Ute football team picked to finish 5th... 54
- Morning links: BYU, Utah and Utah State... 44
- 4-star basketball recruit Connor... 32
- 5 things to look for as BYU heads into... 31
- Whittingham dishes on stadium... 27
- Whittingham says Hatfield is still... 24
- Mendenhall: BYU's 2015 schedule... 22