Dealing with Denver's pass rush

Posted Dec 22, 2012

The Browns will have to deal with an outside rush from Denver linebacker Von Miller and defensive end Elvis Dumervil.

When Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas and rookie right tackle Mitchell Schwartz line up across from the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday afternoon, they will face off against a pair of players capable of rushing the passer in linebacker Von Miller and defensive end Elvis Dumervil.

Miller leads the Broncos and is third in the NFL with 16 sacks for 110 lost yards. Only San Francisco’s Aldon Smith and Houston’s J.J. Watt have more sacks (19.5) than Miller. Dumervil has registered nine sacks this season.

“They’re certainly in the top couple tandems,” Thomas said. “They’re definitely different than a lot of the guys that we’ve faced. We have a lot of respect for the guys at Cincinnati and some of these other groups that have outstanding defensive ends, but when you’re talking three-four type outside linebackers that get after the quarterback on third down, it’s tough to find anybody who’s better.”

Browns coach Pat Shurmur added, “Both guys are getting production. It’s going to be a big challenge. We’ve got to block those guys so they don’t wreck the game. Our guys know the challenge and we’ve just got to go do it.”

Miller was selected by the Broncos with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft out of Texas A&M University. Since joining the league, Miller has registered 27.5 sacks, made Second-Team All-Pro and earned an invitation to the Pro Bowl. He was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2011.

“He’s got unique skill and ability, and he’s got an outstanding feel for the game,” Shurmur said. “That was obvious watching him play at Texas A&M. He was such a dominant force in college. It was no mystery to me that he was going to be a good player in this league and he’s fit well in their scheme. They use him extremely well as a pass-rusher and when he drops back in coverage, he intercepts footballs and he tackles the runner. I don’t see any reason why he’s not going to be an outstanding player for a long time.

“There’s great players in college that translate well to this league. He had that skill and ability. When it happens quickly for a guy like that, it comes as no surprise. I think it’s fair to say that some positions on the field, you can get up-and-running a little bit quicker than others. He’s an outstanding player and a smart, instinctive player. They’re doing the right things with him.”

Miller enters Sunday’s game tied for fourth on the team with 60 total tackles and 49 solo stops. He has collected one interception, which he returned for 26 yards, 25 tackles for loss, 21 quarterback hurries and six forced fumbles.

When watching film of Miller, Thomas recognized one key factor in the second-year linebacker’s ability to rush opposing quarterbacks.

“He may be the fastest guy on their defense, corners, safeties included,” Thomas said. “I don’t know if he runs a 4.5 or a 4.4, but whatever he is, there’s nobody that’s quicker or faster at outside linebacker. He may be one of the fastest linebackers in the league. You talk about a combination of speed and quickness and you put him out there rushing the quarterback at 240 pounds and that’s a tough group of talents to deal with.”

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