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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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Keenum's concussion vs. Ravens likely played part in new NFL guidelines

Keenum's concussion vs. Ravens likely played part in new NFL guidelines

The concussion suffered last year by Rams quarterback Case Keenum against the Ravens, and the way it was handled, surely played a part in new punishment announced Monday by the NFL for teams violating the league’s concussion protocol.

The Players Association and the league made a joint announcement about the new standards.

Under the new policy, teams could be fined anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 for a first violation of the concussion protocol, or suffer loss of draft picks. For a second violation, the minimum fine will be $100,000.

Major concerns about enforcing in-game concussion protocol were raised during a November game last year at M&T Bank Stadium between the Rams and Ravens.

With just over a minute left to play, Ravens defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan sacked Keenum, and the back of his head slammed violently against the turf. Keenum held his head while lying on the ground and initially had trouble getting to his feet.  

The Rams’ athletic trainer ran onto the field to check on Keenum, but he remained in the game. Keenum fumbled two plays later, and after the game, it was announced he had suffered a concussion.

The league investigated the Rams’ handling of the situation and the team was not fined. However, not everyone was satisfied, including NFLPA president Eric Winston.

“Show me someone that says, ‘No, the Rams did exactly the right thing,”’ Winston told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last year. “They didn’t. Everybody knows they didn’t.  So there has to be discipline, right? Because when a player doesn’t do something that he’s supposed to do, he gets fined for that when it comes to health and safety.”

As a result, the NFL and the Players Association have agreed on punishment that could help protect players who have been concussed.

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New commercial shows Flacco should just buy cars, not sell them

New commercial shows Flacco should just buy cars, not sell them

Fortunately for Joe Flacco, he was born with an arm meant for chucking footballs prodigious distances and a body destined to stand in an NFL pocket. That's because — if he wasn't in possession of these gifts and didn't have the work ethic to put them to good use — he may not be cut out for everyday life and a typical job.

Last year, a Pepsi and Tostitos commercial came out and showed that the Ravens quarterback was clueless when it came to party throwing. A recent Ford ad, meanwhile, is demonstrating that No. 5 should stick to purchasing vehicles as opposed to selling them.

Here's the spot in its entirety:

Trying to convince someone to buy a car because it's "like two motorcycles stuck together" is not exactly the best selling point. As the commercial concludes, letting Flacco focus on the field and the professionals take care of everything else is the most ideal use of everyone's time.

RELATED: RAVENS SHOULD CONSIDER A RUNNING BACK BY COMMITTEE APPROACH

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NFL great Jim Brown worked with league to reinstate Josh Gordon

NFL great Jim Brown worked with league to reinstate Josh Gordon

Jim Brown, one of the greatest NFL players of all time, has been actively involved in trying to rehabilitate the career of Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon.

In his role as a special advisor with the team, Brown has been in contact with Gordon, who was conditionally reinstated by the NFL on Monday.

Gordon has been suspended 27 of the Browns’ last 32 games due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The league announced Monday that Gordon would still be suspended the first four games of the 2016 season, but could be reintstated Week 5.

Gordon can join the Browns when they begin training camp Thursday, and participate in team meetings and activities. If Gordon meets all of the league’s behavior requirements during his suspension, he can return in Week 5. He will miss the Ravens-Browns game Week 2 in Cleveland, but could Gordon could face the Ravens when they host the Browns in Week 10.

Gordon is an extraordinary talent, who led the NFL in receiving yards in 2013, with 1,646 yards in just 14 games. Plenty of people, including Brown, are hoping Gordon has finally put his problems behind him.

“I’ve talked with Josh twice on the phone, and the last time I talked with him he sounded very motivated and I think he was in rehab and feeling good about it and discovering some things about himself,” Brown told Cleveland.com. “He really seemed ready to take responsibility for himself.”

Robert Griffin III and all the Browns’ quarterbacks will certainly be glad to see Gordon in camp. Ironically, Gordon’s 2016 debut could come against the Patriots in Week 5, who will also be expecting quarterback Tom Brady to return from his four-game suspension for Deflategate.