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Miller sports new nickname, new shoes

Miller sports new nickname, new shoes

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Von Miller has a new nickname and a new shoe just in time for the playoffs.

The Texas A&M alum, who topped his superb Rookie of the Year season with a team-record 18 1/2 sacks in his second year with the Denver Broncos, wanted to fly to Arlington, Texas, to watch his Aggies play in the Cotton Bowl last week.

Trouble is, coach John Fox scheduled a team lift last Saturday to keep players from jetting off for the weekend, although he was more concerned about flights out West to Las Vegas than to DFW.

So, Miller had to watch on TV as Johnny Manziel, the exciting dual-threat quarterback known as ``Johnny Football'' and the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, guided the Aggies past Oklahoma 41-13 Friday night.

The next morning, Fox dubbed his elite pass-rusher ``Vonny Football.''

Miller likes the new nickname and joked he'll call his new custom-made Adidas shoe the same thing.

Miller tested his new shoe, a high-top version of the five-star cleats he used to wear, at practice this week and said he was eager to see how they help him rush Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco on Saturday when the Broncos (13-3) host Baltimore (11-6) in the AFC divisional playoffs.

The all-white cleats are pretty narrow.

``Deer have narrow feet, too,'' Miller said. ``You can't have big, wide feet and run fast.''

He said he wouldn't mind outfitting the Aggies in his new shoes next season.

``I'm hoping it will be in high schools all across America, but `Von Miller' doesn't sound as good as d. Rose,'' Miller said of Derrick Rose's Adidas line of basketball shoes.

Maybe something along the lines of his Twitter handle, (at)millerlite40, suggested Miller.

``Miller Lite, that sounds pretty good,'' he said.

It's taken.

``Von Lite,'' then, Miller retorted.

Why not go with Vonny Football?

``Vonny Football!'' Miller repeated. ``Sounds pretty good.''

It's a nickname that's already stuck, courtesy of Fox.

``I was trying to go to the game. I was trying every way, I tried to do whatever I could to make this game on Friday, but we had a workout on Saturday. And I talked to Coach Fox about it, I told him how much I wanted to be there, and he knew how much I wanted to be there and he knew how much the game meant to me,'' Miller said.

Not even a two-time Pro Bowler got out of the Saturday morning lift, however, and Miller said chartering his own plane to make it back in time was out of the question.

``I'm not on Champ Bailey/Peyton Manning status yet,'' Miller said. ``I should have asked them could they get me a hookup on their plane.''

While Miller was basking in the afterglow of his Aggies' big win the next morning, Fox told him, ``You know what? I'm going to call you `Vonny Football' instead of Johnny Football,''' Miller recounted. ``So, I just ran with it.''

Miller wasn't too shy to remind his teammates and coaches that he had predicted a big win for Texas A&M - by at least three TDs.

``I wasn't surprised at all. I told everybody, I said it several times, and it came true. Just like I said we were going to beat Alabama,'' Miller said. ``And next year we're going to win the national championship. I'm saying it now: we're going to win the national championship, Johnny Football's going to win the Heisman again, and everything's going to be great. ``

Notes: CB Tracy Porter (concussion) is the only player who didn't practice Wednesday. Fox revealed the nature of the injury that sidelined LT Ryan Clady last week: a shoulder ailment. Clady, however, was a full participant in the workout along with S Jim Leonhard (thigh), KR Trindon Holliday (ankle), RG Chris Kuper (ankle), S Mike Adams (knee), WR Matthew Willis (knee) and RT Orlando Franklin (knee). ... OC Mike McCoy didn't want to talk about his round of interviews for head coaching vacancies with the Cardinals, Eagles and Bears last weekend. He said he wasn't concerned that he'd be passed up for a job while the Broncos continue their playoff run, either. ``I've got the greatest job here,'' McCoy said. ``I could stay here a long time and not worry about another job.'' ... CB Champ Bailey on Ravens LB Ray Lewis' pending retirement: ``I know he's going to miss the game, but I think the game will miss him more.''

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

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Important 2018 offseason dates for Baltimore Ravens

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USA Today Sports

Important 2018 offseason dates for Baltimore Ravens

Mark your calendars now because the Ravens are already gearing up for their 2018 season.

From the Pro-Bowl all the way to the start of the regular season, here are the key dates.

January 28th: Pro Bowl, Orlando, Fla. 

Safety Eric Weddle, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley will all be in attendance. In addition, Suggs and Weddle were named starters. The game will take place at Camping World Stadium. Kickoff is at 3:00 p.m. ET on ABC and ESPN.

February 3rd: Pro Football Hall of Fame 2018 Class announced

This will be a very important day for Ray Lewis and the Ravens organization as Lewis waits to here if he will be sealed into football history, one day prior to Super Bowl LII. 

February 5th: Waiver system takes effect

The waiver system allows players' contracts or a club's NFL rights to a player available to other clubs in the league. Upon doing this, the other 31 teams can place a claim to obtain him or waive their chance. During this 24- hour period, once a club waives a player it can not take the player back or change his status. Assignments are based upon draft order until the third week of the regular season. If a player does not get claimed, he becomes a free agent. 

February 20th:  First day to franchise or transition tag a player

February 27th- March 5th: NFL Scouting Combine, Indianapolis, IN

This seven day period will be crucial for General Manager Ozzie Newsome to get a good look at potential Ravens.

March 6th: Deadline to franchise or transition tag a player

March 12-14th: Teams are allowed to contact and negotiate with agents of players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents

March 14th: Start of new league year at 4:00 p.m. ET

At this time, all 2017 player contracts expire meaning teams can begin seeking and signing free agents. Ravens free agents include Mike Wallace, Benjamin Watson, Ryan Jensen, Terrance West, James Hurst, Michael Campanaro, Steven Johnson, Ryan Mallet, Brandon Boykin, Crockett Gillmore, Brent Urban and Luke Bowanko.

March 25-28th: Owners Meeting, Orlando, FL

April 16th: Voluntary OTA's can begin

April 20th: Deadline for restricted FA's to sign offer sheets

April 26th-28th: 2018 NFL Draft, Arlington, TX

The Ravens will be heading down to Arlington, Texas in hopes of picking up their next franchise player. Positions needed include wide receiver, tight end, quarterback and outside linebacker.

May 4-7th or 11-14th: Potential three-day rookie minicamp

May 31-June 2nd: Ravens Beach Bash, Ocean City, MD

July 16th: Deadline to get long-term deal done with designated franchise tag player 

Mid-Late July: Training camp begins

August 2nd: Hall of Fame Game, Canton, OH

August 4th: Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Canton, OH

Again, keep this date marked as it could be the day Ray Lewis is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

September 6th: Start of regular season 

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Don Martindale promoted to Ravens defensive coordinator

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USA Today Sports

Don Martindale promoted to Ravens defensive coordinator

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh has promoted linebackers coach Don Martindale to defensive coordinator, assuring a seamless transition in the wake of Dean Pees' retirement.

Martindale has been coaching Baltimore linebackers since 2012. The 54-year-old was the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos in 2010.

After Pees ended his six-year run as the Ravens' defensive coordinator on Jan. 1, Harbaugh said he wanted to maintain continuity with his new hire.

RELATED: RAVENS' 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT ROUNDUP

"I'm a believer in this system," Harbaugh said last week. "This system has been something that's been developed for a long period of time, and we have worked really hard every single year to make it better."

Martindale has been part of that process. He coached the Ravens inside linebackers from 2012-15 and spent the past two seasons as the team's linebackers coach.

In announcing the move Tuesday, Harbaugh said Martindale's "aggressive mentality will serve to take our defense to new levels."

Harbaugh said Martindale "knows the ins and outs of what we have been about on defense and has been an important contributor to our success on that side of the ball."

Also on Tuesday, Harbaugh promoted Mike Macdonald to linebackers coach and Sterling Lucas to quality control defense.

The 30-year-old Macdonald joined the Ravens in 2014 as a coaching intern on defense. He served as a defensive assistant in 2015 and 2016, and this season was the defensive backs coach. Baltimore led the NFL this season with 22 interceptions and forced a league-best 34 turnovers.

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