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Miller sports new nickname, new shoes

Miller sports new nickname, new shoes

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Von Miller has a new nickname and a new shoe just in time for the playoffs.

The Texas A&M alum, who topped his superb Rookie of the Year season with a team-record 18 1/2 sacks in his second year with the Denver Broncos, wanted to fly to Arlington, Texas, to watch his Aggies play in the Cotton Bowl last week.

Trouble is, coach John Fox scheduled a team lift last Saturday to keep players from jetting off for the weekend, although he was more concerned about flights out West to Las Vegas than to DFW.

So, Miller had to watch on TV as Johnny Manziel, the exciting dual-threat quarterback known as ``Johnny Football'' and the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, guided the Aggies past Oklahoma 41-13 Friday night.

The next morning, Fox dubbed his elite pass-rusher ``Vonny Football.''

Miller likes the new nickname and joked he'll call his new custom-made Adidas shoe the same thing.

Miller tested his new shoe, a high-top version of the five-star cleats he used to wear, at practice this week and said he was eager to see how they help him rush Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco on Saturday when the Broncos (13-3) host Baltimore (11-6) in the AFC divisional playoffs.

The all-white cleats are pretty narrow.

``Deer have narrow feet, too,'' Miller said. ``You can't have big, wide feet and run fast.''

He said he wouldn't mind outfitting the Aggies in his new shoes next season.

``I'm hoping it will be in high schools all across America, but `Von Miller' doesn't sound as good as d. Rose,'' Miller said of Derrick Rose's Adidas line of basketball shoes.

Maybe something along the lines of his Twitter handle, (at)millerlite40, suggested Miller.

``Miller Lite, that sounds pretty good,'' he said.

It's taken.

``Von Lite,'' then, Miller retorted.

Why not go with Vonny Football?

``Vonny Football!'' Miller repeated. ``Sounds pretty good.''

It's a nickname that's already stuck, courtesy of Fox.

``I was trying to go to the game. I was trying every way, I tried to do whatever I could to make this game on Friday, but we had a workout on Saturday. And I talked to Coach Fox about it, I told him how much I wanted to be there, and he knew how much I wanted to be there and he knew how much the game meant to me,'' Miller said.

Not even a two-time Pro Bowler got out of the Saturday morning lift, however, and Miller said chartering his own plane to make it back in time was out of the question.

``I'm not on Champ Bailey/Peyton Manning status yet,'' Miller said. ``I should have asked them could they get me a hookup on their plane.''

While Miller was basking in the afterglow of his Aggies' big win the next morning, Fox told him, ``You know what? I'm going to call you `Vonny Football' instead of Johnny Football,''' Miller recounted. ``So, I just ran with it.''

Miller wasn't too shy to remind his teammates and coaches that he had predicted a big win for Texas A&M - by at least three TDs.

``I wasn't surprised at all. I told everybody, I said it several times, and it came true. Just like I said we were going to beat Alabama,'' Miller said. ``And next year we're going to win the national championship. I'm saying it now: we're going to win the national championship, Johnny Football's going to win the Heisman again, and everything's going to be great. ``

Notes: CB Tracy Porter (concussion) is the only player who didn't practice Wednesday. Fox revealed the nature of the injury that sidelined LT Ryan Clady last week: a shoulder ailment. Clady, however, was a full participant in the workout along with S Jim Leonhard (thigh), KR Trindon Holliday (ankle), RG Chris Kuper (ankle), S Mike Adams (knee), WR Matthew Willis (knee) and RT Orlando Franklin (knee). ... OC Mike McCoy didn't want to talk about his round of interviews for head coaching vacancies with the Cardinals, Eagles and Bears last weekend. He said he wasn't concerned that he'd be passed up for a job while the Broncos continue their playoff run, either. ``I've got the greatest job here,'' McCoy said. ``I could stay here a long time and not worry about another job.'' ... CB Champ Bailey on Ravens LB Ray Lewis' pending retirement: ``I know he's going to miss the game, but I think the game will miss him more.''

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton on Twitter:http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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Keenan Questions?: 5 observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp

Keenan Questions?: 5 observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp

OWINGS MILLS – Five observations from Day 3 of Ravens training camp on Saturday, the first practice with players wearing pads:

1. Running back Terrance West looks slimmer, quicker, and impressive both running and pass catching.

West had another strong day of practice, and got plenty of reps with both Kenneth Dixon (knee) and Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot) still out. Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, and Dixon are considered locks to make the 53-man roster. But West, a former Towson star and Baltimore product, could finally be realizing his potential after disappointing stops with the Browns and Titans. West could force the Ravens to keep four running backs, in addition to fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

2. Keenan Reynolds needs to step up his performance at wide receiver.

A host of wide receivers are performing better than Reynolds, who is trying to transition from Navy quarterback to NFL wide receiver. Reynolds had a couple of drops the first three days of practice, and has been unable to get open consistently. Meanwhile, wide receiver Chris Matthews had another strong day, as did Michael Campanaro. Reynolds can help the Ravens as a returner, but they have other players who can fill that role. For Reynolds to secure a roster spot, he needs to show he can help the Ravens as a receiver. Otherwise, the Ravens will face a difficult decision regarding Reynolds, a local fan favorite.

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3. The way Kamalei Correa and Zach Orr are performing, the Ravens may not need to sign a veteran inside linebacker.

Correa had a sparkling one-handed interception Saturday, showing his hands and athleticism. Orr has been reading plays quickly and keeping himself around the football. Even if Correa wins the job at inside linebacker next to C. J. Mosley, there could be reps for Orr as well, giving the Ravens a promising young combo.

4. Saturday was not a crisp day for the offense.

The defense was the better unit, as the offense looked sloppy at times. There were a couple of bad snaps out of the shotgun from center Jeremy Zuttah, and a few false starts from the offensive line. There is plenty of time for cleanup before Week 1, but it’s not what the coaches want to see.

5. QB Joe Flacco and TE Dennis Pitta continued to look good.

Saturday made three straight days of practice for Flacco with no noticeable limping or discomfort. Flacco may be wearing a red jersey, but there have been no red flags regarding his surgically-repaired knee. Meanwhile, Pitta took a solid hit from Orr while attempting to make a catch, but Pitta jumped right to his feet. This was another good day for Pitta in his comeback from his second major hip injury.

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DT Jernigan leaves practice early, WR Moore does not practice

DT Jernigan leaves practice early, WR Moore does not practice

OWINGS MILLS – Ravens defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan left Saturday’s practice early, while rookie wide receiver Chris Moore did not practice.  Coach John Harbaugh did not meet with the media after practice, and no reason was immediately given for either absence. ESPN reported that Jernigan suffered a minor rib area strain that was not considered serious.

Cornerback Jerraud Powers took the field for this first training camp practice, after finally passing the conditioning test. Powers was the lone player remaining who had not passed the test.

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In addition to the five players on the PUP list, tight end Crockett Gillmore (hamstring) and running back Kenneth Dixon (knee) did not practice.

In a roster move, the Ravens signed punter Michael Palardy to fill their open roster spot. Sam Koch, a Pro Bowl selection in 2015, is firmly entrenched as the Ravens’ punter. However, Palardy can take practice reps while the Ravens work their punt returners, reducing some of the strain on Koch’s leg.

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Why Yanda knows offensive success hinges on ability to protect Flacco

Why Yanda knows offensive success hinges on ability to protect Flacco

OWINGS MILLS - One of Marshal Yanda’s top priorities is to make sure the offensive line does its best to keep Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco healthy, unlike 2015, when Flacco suffered a season-ending knee injury. Having made five straight Pro Bowls as a right guard, Yanda is beginning his 10th NFL season, and his ninth season with Flacco as his quarterback. Yanda knows that much of the Ravens’ offensive success depends on Flacco staying healthy.

“We haven’t really talked about it specifically,” Yanda said. “But obviously, you know as an offensive line, we talk about it, and you coach it. You’re going to keep your guys as far away from the quarterback as possible. Obviously, there is probably more emphasis this year with the knee.”

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When Flacco sees game action for the first time this season, Yanda doesn’t expect his quarterback to play tentatively due to his knee.

“He’s going to have to make his read,” Yanda said. “We have certain plays where he is going to be on the move, no matter what. We know about it: it is conscious in my mind; it is conscious in the offensive line’s mind and his mind, too. I feel like he just has to play through that. I had a knee (injury) once before, and he just has to get reps and get comfortable with the way it is feeling now. It will always feel a little different. That is just normal. It will continue to get normal as he keeps playing.”