When the Buffalo Bills take the field at MetLife Stadium on Monday night as they battle with the New York Jets, Von Miller won’t be in uniform. In fact, it will be more than a month before he puts a uniform on as he’s currently sitting on the Bills’ PUP list.
Miller, whom the Bills acquired last offseason to help bolster a defense that needed to put more pressure on the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow, tore his ACL on Thanksgiving Day last season. Although the 34-year-old veteran had hoped to be ready for Week 1, it just wasn’t to be.
“I got cleared by Dr. Cooper just two days before the PUP deadline,” Miller told reporters on Wednesday, “but it wasn’t enough time to get ready to play football in the NFL.”
Miller said that Dr. Dan Cooper, the surgeon in Texas who repaired his torn ACL, told him that his knee is cleared for football as well as “for contact and all that.” However, he admitted that there’s a lot more work that needs to be done before he puts the pads back on.
“Just because the knee is ready doesn’t mean the other muscles are — hamstrings, quads, all these other muscles,” Miller said he has to be sure all the muscles that support his knee are ready for the rigors of a football season. “There’s still a whole list of things you have to do to get to pads and helmets and running around and pass rushing.”
Contrary to what some may think, he says it truly is more of a physical thing keeping him off of the field than a mental thing. Coming back from a serious injury, concerns about re-injuring oneself, and trust in a repaired body part can often be mental obstacles for athletes to overcome, but Miller, who has been down this road before (he had an ACL repair in 2013), said that he’s mentally doing great and just focusing on what he can control.
“Mentally I’m in a great spot,” he said, adding that he’s going to just keep chipping away at the process that will get him back on the field. “Football is different — you can’t replicate wrestling with guys and hitting guys.”
Miller said that the decision of whether to be active for Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season wasn’t his to make, but that he trusts general manager Brandon Beane completely.
“Ultimately it wasn’t my decision,” Miller told reporters during his post-practice media session. “Beane is one of the greatest — he’s able to make decisions like that.”
While PUP wasn’t where Miller had envisioned his name being listed on the Bills’ roster to start his 13th season, he isn’t going to focus on what could have been.
“I didn’t have no pride either way it went,” he said about the last-minute decision to keep him out of action for another month. “It’s just four more weeks, and if it takes longer then that it takes longer.”
With a PUP designation, Miller isn’t eligible for activation until after Week 4 at the earliest. That means in theory he could play in London when the Bills take on the Jacksonville Jaguars on October 8. But in reality, it’s likely that the team will ease him back into playing. Once being taken off of PUP, the Bills will have 21 days to activate Miller. It is much more likely that it will be mid to late October before the pass rusher is back on the field for a Buffalo Bills game day.