- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 1, 2016

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - The last time the Denver Broncos had their bookend pass-rushers on the field together, Cam Newton was getting crushed.

Von Miller is skipping the Super Bowl champs’ offseason program while awaiting a new contract. The Broncos placed their franchise tag on him, so they have until July 15 to get a deal done, meaning it’s unlikely he’ll be back before training camp next month.

DeMarcus Ware is being held out of OTAs as a precaution after missing five games and parts of two others with a bad back last season.

“Same thing, back is bothering him,” coach Gary Kubiak said Tuesday, noting Ware was inside working with head athletic trainer Steve Antonopulos and strength and conditioning coach Luke Richesson during the Broncos’ on-field workout.

“I don’t know how much you’ll see him in OTAs,” Kubiak added. “I hope we get a few in before we call it for summer, but there is no reason to rush him out there.”

The Broncos hold their mandatory minicamp next week after visiting the White House on Monday and then their final session of OTAs the following week before scattering until training camp begins in late July.

Even then, Ware is expected to take it easy.

Ware got off to a terrific start last season but a disc problem in his lower back started to bother him. He hurried back and aggravated the injury, so the Broncos nursed him back to health and eased him back into the lineup down the stretch.

That approach paid off handsomely with a monster playoff run as Ware collected a dozen quarterback hits in the playoffs, teaming with Miller to harass Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady and Newton as the Broncos rode the league’s best defense to the title.

The plan is for Ware to transition into more of a third-down pass-rushing specialist next season with Shane Ray and Shaq Barrett vying for more snaps on first and second downs.

Ware accepted a pay cut this offseason to help out the team financially but he’s expected to maintain his lofty status as one of the team’s leaders, especially with Peyton Manning retired.

Inside linebacker Brandon Marshall said he still expects Ware to play a major role even with fewer snaps.

“I think so because he’s so explosive still at 33,” Marshall said. “When you just come into the game on third downs it’s hard to get into a rhythm, but they’re just going to ask him to go get the quarterback. I definitely think he can still have a high impact. I think he can still get seven-plus sacks, 10 sacks, I think so. He’s such a savvy vet.”

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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