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With fewer mistakes and technical hiccups has come more production.

“It’s just the gelling effect on the team,” Miller said, “and the outside world is starting to notice.”

Allen has started to line up Miller at times over the center, where it’s easier for him to slice through guards than tackles, who are generally more athletic and agile.

Miller’s 9 1/2 sacks are two shy of the Broncos rookie record set by Rulon Jones in 1980 and five shy of Jevon Kearse’s NFL rookie record set in 1999.

“When I go out there, I don’t worry about any of that stuff. I worry about getting a win,” Miller said. “That’s what motivates me; that’s what pushes me: to get the win. I feel like if you don’t get the win, all the other stuff is really irrelevant.”

It’s not just Denver’s dynamic bookends who are making big plays.

The Broncos looked like they were going to have a big doughnut hole in their defensive line after tackles Ty Warren and Kevin Vickerson suffered season-ending injuries, but Thomas and Brodrick Bunkley, along with backups Ryan McBean and rookie Mitch Unrein have stuffed the middle and pushed the pocket, helping the defensive ends get to the quarterback.

“I’ve seen it since Day 1. We have great talent around here,” Bunkley said. “If you look at our D-line, we’ve got a lot of hard-nosed guys ready to work, ready to do whatever it takes to go out there and win.

“We have a great coach in Wayne Nunnely and guys are dedicated to work around here. Elvis does his best to keep guys going and guys focus at practice. We know we’re a big part of the game and in order for a team to be successful your D-line has to be somewhat dominant and that’s what we strive for every day.”

The D-line’s dominance has had a trickle-down effect, keeping the Broncos in games while the offense has struggled to get going until crunch time.

“It’s been very critical,” linebacker Joe Mays said. “Those guys have been playing really well the past few games and it kinds of makes it easier on us as linebackers, because we’re able to flow free. Not only are we able to take on blocks, but they’re actually getting through the line and making plays. That’s huge for the defense.”

Notes: The Broncos practiced in shorts on Thanksgiving Day with unseasonable temperatures in the 70s. … With QB Kyle Orton’s departure, RB Willis McGahee has been named one of the team’s captains. Orton had retained his captainship after his demotion and continued calling heads or tails during the pregame coin tosses. His departure saved the team $2.6 million but Orton’s new team, the Chiefs, visit Denver on New Year’s Day and a playoff berth might be on the line.


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