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Ravens not taking Broncos defense lightly, even without Von Miller

Since news broke of Von Miller's suspension, the Ravens have been preparing for who might step into his place.

The Broncos will be without Von Miller on Thursday when they take on the Ravens.
The Broncos will be without Von Miller on Thursday when they take on the Ravens.

The Broncos finished No. 2 in total defense in 2013, partly due to the tandem Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller were able to become.

Miller sacked quarterbacks 18.5 times, causing havoc on opposing offensive lines. Dumervil was a force at defensive end, though he's now in Baltimore as an outside linebacker and ready to face his former team this week.

Miller is suspended for the first six games for a violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. Miller's presence will surely be missed when Denver hosts the Ravens on Thursday.

And don't think the Ravens aren't aware of this either.

"Von's a great player and it's the NFL, so there should be good backups that can go in there," Ravens right guard Marshal Yanda said. "You don't want to say a drop-off, but there's going to be a different player than Von. We've watched the film on them and we'll be ready for whoever they put out there."

Taking Miller's place on the depth chart is Nate Irving, who had just 13 tackles a year ago. However, the one that could wind up being the biggest threat to rush the passer in Miller's absence is Shaun Phillips, who had 9.5 sacks with the Chargers in 2012.

The Ravens, doing their due diligence, have taken notice of Phillips, who has given them troubles in the past.

"He's got good speed and can get some counter moves," left tackle Bryant McKinnie said.

The Ravens' offensive line helped keep Joe Flacco clean throughout the 2012 postseason, when McKinnie entered the starting lineup. That same group kept the Broncos defenders at bay, only surrendering one sack in the postseason 38-35 double overtime victory.

And now, the line won't have to block Dumervil or Miller.

That said, they're not going to take the Broncos lightly — especially Phillips, who has recorded 1.5 sacks against the Ravens over the past two seasons.

"I just expect them to try and play hard because [Miller's] not there," McKinnie said. "It gives somebody else an opportunity to showcase what they can do."

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