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On a roll, Miller heads to Lewis' turf

On a roll, Miller heads to Lewis' turf

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Almost any time Ray Lewis has lined up over the last 17 years, he has been the best linebacker - if not the best player - on the field.

If Lewis is in uniform Sunday when the Ravens play the Broncos that might not be the case.

With his rare combination of around-the-corner speed and nimble footwork that helps him beat offensive tackles, then dance over fallen quarterbacks, Denver's Von Miller is changing the equation.

``I looked up to him when I was younger,'' the 23-year-old Miller said of Lewis, the two-time defensive player of the year and a seven-time Associated Press All-Pro. ``I look up to him now.''

While Lewis has spent the better part of the season on injured reserve with a torn triceps, Miller is staking out Lewis' old territory, as arguably the most disruptive linebacker in the game.

He was last year's defensive rookie of the year and is a favorite to be named this year's defensive player of the year. He heads into the 14th game of the season with 16 sacks, one short of Elvis Dumervil's single-season franchise record. Miller has at least one sack in the past six games, along with six forced fumbles and a total of 24 tackles in opposing team's backfields.

In other words, he is a player opposing offenses must account for in their game plans, and if that sounds familiar in Baltimore, it should. Teams have been planning around Lewis for years.

``They're both extremely passionate, they both love to play, they both disrupt games. That's about where the similarities end,'' said Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, who also coached Lewis during his early years in Baltimore. ``Both of them are extremely different in how they impact games. Ray was probably the best inside linebacker to ever play. ... Von's an amazing edge guy, a sack man, a guy who can disrupt. I'd like to have both of them, but I'm sure glad we have Von.''

Among the story lines following Miller this week are the three fines he's received from the NFL this year - for hits on quarterbacks Matt Schaub of the Texans, Cam Newton of the Panthers and Josh Freeman of the Buccaneers.

Miller has appealed all the fines. He said the Schaub one has been upheld but that he hasn't heard back on the other two. He said he isn't trying to hurt anyone but won't change the way he plays.

``It really doesn't bother me too much, because I know that's not the type of player I am,'' Miller said. ``It's just the type of circumstances that happened that put me in those positions.''

Lewis is eligible to come off the injured reserve list this week, though Ravens coach John Harbaugh isn't tipping his hand. Not knowing whether they'll face him, a number of the Broncos said they have to be prepared for Lewis' intensity if he is in uniform come Sunday.

``I've always kind of kidded that Ray is just as intense and passionate in the fourth quarter of the fourth preseason game as he is in the first quarter of a playoff game,'' said Peyton Manning, who is 8-0 against Lewis and the Ravens, including playoffs, since 2002. ``It's real, and that's pretty special and pretty unique.''

Miller, who likes to speak of his ``fanatical effort,'' shows all signs that he can match Lewis' intensity and, like Lewis, that he can do it with his own signature flair. Lewis' trademark is ``The Squirrel'' - the frenetic dance he does when he comes out of the tunnel during pregame introductions. Miller prefers to do his dancing after he sacks the quarterback.

The linebackers haven't crossed paths often but when they do, Miller tries to take advantage.

``I've had the opportunity, the blessing, just to be in his presence and talk to him and pick his mind a little bit, so that's great,'' Miller said.

Miller's second-year surge has been as big a boost for the Broncos on defense as Manning's arrival has been for the offense. It's a big reason the Broncos are 10-3, with the AFC West title already secured and a chance at a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Denver has the fourth-ranked defense in yards allowed and has given up fewer points than anyone in the AFC. Denver has 39 sacks this season, tied for second in the NFL, and Miller's presence accounts for more than just the 16 he's recorded.

``In my eyes, I think he's been, all around, maybe the defensive player of the year,'' Dumervil said. ``He's been really working at all phases of the game. He's a big part of what we've got accomplished so far so it's been great.''

Notes: LB Wesley Woodyard (ankle) was limited in practice Thursday. Told of Woodyard's statement that he would definitely play against the Ravens, Broncos coach John Fox said, ``Sometimes we're all legends in our own mind. We'll be day-to-day and we'll see how that goes.'' ... Manning needs 188 yards to hit 4,000 yards for the 12th time. ... The Broncos lead the league by outscoring their opponents by 71 points in the fourth quarter. Chicago is next at plus-47.

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Report: Ravens safety Matt Elam arrested on drug charges

Report: Ravens safety Matt Elam arrested on drug charges

Ravens safety Matt Elam was arrested on drug charges early Sunday morning in Miami, according to Pro Football Talk.

"We have just been made aware of this and are looking into the situation," Ravens Vice President of Public Relations Chad Steele said via email. Steele later added that "Matt Elam is not in our (Ravens) plans."

The arrest, which reportedly occurred at 3:45 a.m. Sunday, is the latest disappointment for one of the biggest draft busts in Ravens history. Elam was a first-round pick in 2013, but he never came close to reaching expectations due to injuries and poor play. The Ravens did not pick up Elam’s fifth-year option making him a free agent in March. He has only played nine games the past two seasons, and he was suspended for one game in 2015 for violating the NFL substance abuse policy.

Now Elam has more to worry about than his disappointing NFL career, and finding another team to play for.  According to the report, Elam was charged with possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis, possession of cannabis with the intent to sell or deliver, and possession of a controlled substance. Elam was initially pulled over for reckless driving, according to police, who then found 126 grams of marijuana and three grams of oxycodone in his car.

Related: Will the Ravens cut tight end Dennis Pitta to create cap space?

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NFL Mock Draft 4.0: Combine Primer And Sleepers

NFL Mock Draft 4.0: Combine Primer And Sleepers

The annual NFL Combine kicks of Wednesday in Indianapolis. Whatever happens there -- receivers run fast, quarterbacks flash arm strength, defenders lack pop -- projections will change and in some cases significantly. Therefore here's my last look at the situation before all the sprints and lifts via mock draft 4.0 plus some other thoughts below.

* League sources offered up names of several prospects currently ranked all over the big boards with the chance to make a big splash during the combine. They include:

Alabama TE O.J. Howard -- Everybody already knows the 6-foot-6 Howard is a two-way monster. His Senior Bowl dominance certainly confirmed that. Rocking the Combine could alter his mid-to-late first round projection into 10-13 range where teams like New Orleans, Cleveland and Arizona have TE needs. Call me crazy, but if Howard is there when the Redskins pick at 17, I can imagine Washington thinkng long and hard about two-TE sets wth Jordan Reed. 

Oklahoma DT Charles Walker -- The Redskins have shown interest in Walker, according to a league source, though his draft range is all over the map. The interior force's redshirt junior season ended early due to a concussion followed by a decision to leave the Sooners early with draft preparation in mind. Was a second-team All-Big 12 selection as a junior thanks to six sacks. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. ranks Walker ninth among defensive tackles while WalterFootball.com projects the 304-pounder as a Day 2 pick.

<<CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL NFL MOCK DRAFT 4.0>>

Pittsburgh OT Adam Bisnowaty -- Considered underrated despite starting four seasons for the Panthers. The left tackle helped key a resurgent season for the Panthers. Lack of wow prospects at the position means the order outside of Ryan Ramczyk (Wisconsin), Cam Robinson (Alabama) and Garrett Bolles (Utah) is in flux.

Ashland TE Adam Shaheen -- The D2 prospect is early candidate for the "Who is that guy?" award. Expect raves about Shaheen's size and athleticism. CBS Sports already has Day 2 projection on the 6-foot-6, 277-pounder who can run routes like a wide receiever. Could he move all the way into round 1?

Tulsa WR Keevan Lucas -- What the 5-foot-10 receiver lacks in height he makes up for with speed and production. Caught 81 passes for 1,180 yards and 15 touchdowns during his senior season with the Golden Hurricanes. Certain analytics show Lucas' production stood out  and put him in the same statistical company as future NFL receivers Stefon Diggs and Marqise Lee. Day 3 sleeper.

Other to watch: QB Pat Mahomes (Texas Tech), TE David Nkoju (Miami, Fl.), DT Ryan Glasgow (Michigan), CB Cordrea Tankersley (Clemson)

* Look at Scot McCloughan's draft history and one theme emerges: The man likes seniors, especially in round one. Brandon Scherff and Josh Doctson were both four-year players. The bulk of first round selections during his time at Seattle and San Francisco. That doesn't mean McCloughan will go that way with the 17th overall pick; Of the top 19 ranked prospects according to ESPN analyst Todd McShay, 14 are underclassmen. But keep a close on seniors with early round projections like Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, Temple inside linebacker Haason Reddick, Indiana guard Dan Feeney, LSU cornerback Tre'Davious White, Washington wide receiver John Ross and Iowa defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson.

<<CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL NFL MOCK DRAFT 4.0>>