THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Standing in front of a Los Angeles Rams backdrop and surrounded by two dozen media members, Von Miller sported a blue and yellow Rams cap and a No. 40 practice jersey, as he fielded questions for 12 minutes about a blockbuster trade that sent him from the Denver Broncos to California and about his expectations joining a team built to contend for a Super Bowl.
“It feels like a movie,” Miller said several times Wednesday. “When I took off Tuesday morning, I had a nice view of the mountains and I told myself, taking off you’re a Denver Bronco, when I land I’m a Los Angeles Ram. … I went to sleep 4-4 and woke up 7-1.”
An eight-time Pro Bowl standout and three-time All-Pro outside linebacker, Miller moves on from Denver after 11 years and joins a team that has gone all-in to play in the Super Bowl on Feb. 13 in owner Stan Kroenke’s $5 billion SoFi Stadium.
Despite arriving at the practice facility only a day earlier, Miller did not shy away from describing the Rams’ potential as they surge toward a playoff run. “This team is ready to win right now, ready to win championships right now,” said Miller, who earned a Super Bowl ring with the Broncos. “And I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Ahead of the trade deadline, the Rams sent the Broncos 2022 second- and third-round picks to acquire the 32-year-old Miller, who’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the season. The Broncos, who selected Miller with the second overall pick in 2011, also have agreed to pay $9 million of the $9.7 million Miller is still owed on his contract.
“I’ve been wearing blue and orange forever,” said Miller, as he looked down to check out his new attire. “Everything just looks weird, but it feels extremely right. It feels right to be here. It feels like this is the right thing for me.”
Rams coach Sean McVay said Miller received a big welcome from his new teammates.
“I was excited. I’ve been a fan of Von Miller for a long time,” said quarterback Matthew Stafford, who also was brought to Los Angeles as part of a blockbuster trade over the offseason. “He’s a big-time player in this league, and just adding him to a defense that’s already got a bunch of playmakers has the possibility of being something really special.”
All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who once shared an agent with Miller, was the first to reach out after the trade. “You know how you go to your school for the first time and you got that one kid who say, ‘Hey man,’ and introduce themselves?” Miller said. “It’s kind of like Forrest Gump on the bus when you walk in? That was Jalen.”
The Rams held a modified practice Wednesday due to a long injury list that included Stafford and receiver Robert Woods. Miller did not practice and worked on the sideline with the training staff to gauge his recovery from an ankle sprain that he suffered in Week 7 and that kept him sidelined in Week 8.
Miller indicated he did not anticipate the injury would prevent him from making his debut on Sunday night when the Rams play host to the Tennessee Titans (6-2).
“It’s still coming along,” he said. “I still have some lingering issues, but I know if I can continue to take it day-by-day, I feel good for this weekend. I feel good about my recovery process.”
The active NFL sack leader with 110.5, Miller brings his pass-rush prowess to a defense that already leads the league with 25 sacks and stars three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, Ramsey and former first-round pick Leonard Floyd, who ranks in the NFL’s top 10 this season with 6.5 sacks.
“You hear stories of the Fearsome Foursome and you hear stories of this legendary defense and we want to re-create that,” said Miller, who has 4.5 sacks in seven games this season. “They’ve been playing great defense all year. I just want to add to it. I want to add some of the things that I do best, my leadership and my energy and my positive vibes.”
Dating to 2017, Miller has the sixth-highest pass rush win rate when lined up as an edge defender, beating his block within 2.5 seconds 25% of the time, while Donald has the high pass rush win rate when lined up as a defensive tackle, beating his block 25% of the time, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
“You see [Donald] just going crazy and these guys triple-team him,” Miller said. “I’ve been getting triple-teamed for the last 10 years, that’s six people right there and we still got Leonard Floyd and all the other guys, so it’s going to be fun.”
Over the past five seasons, Donald and Miller rank first and fourth, respectively, in pressures per game.
This season, Donald has five sacks.
“I cried a lot on Monday,” Miller said. “All the tears weren’t sad. I had tears of joy, too, coming here to play with Aaron Donald.”