Nestled underneath his parents’ home in Upper Marlboro, Md., lies what Jordan Miller affectionately refers to it as his “couch.”
For three months after being cut by the Chicago Bears in August, that’s where the Green Bay Packers’ first-year defensive lineman divided his time between working out two hours each day and watching movies in his downtime.
One year out of Southern University, Miller didn’t have the cash to pay for a personal trainer or fancy professional facilities, so he eventually got a $50 membership to the local gym down the street from his home.
The 24-year-old Miller had a one-year stint with the Bears where he spent 15 games on the practice squad before a late-season promotion, but he didn’t know if that phone would ever ring again after getting his release at the end of training camp.
If it did, however, the 6-foot-1, 317-pound defensive lineman was going to be ready.
“I just had to motivate myself thinking that something is going to happen, you just don’t know when,” Miller said. “It’s all on a possibility because some guys don’t get a second chance after they get released. That’s just it.”
In October, an opportunity sprouted on the Packers’ practice squad in the week after former seventh-round pick Lawrence Guy signed to Indianapolis’ active roster. The Packers brought Miller in for a workout before signing him on Oct. 24.
With the recent rash of injuries that hit the team’s defensive line, the Packers promoted Miller to the active roster on Tuesday after injuries to C.J. Wilson (knee) and Mike Neal (shoulder) left the team with only four defensive linemen during last Sunday’s 27-20 win over Detroit.
Neal is expected to be back today against Chicago, but Miller could see some snaps to help provide lessent he workload of a unit that’s expected to rotate rookies Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels into Wilson’s still vacated spot in the starting 3-4 base defense.
Miller has shown the ability to play both the run and pass during practice, but the Packers plan to use him primarily inside.
“Probably more of trying to keep him inside a little more than playing the wide end that we play,” said Packers defensive line coach Mike Trgovac of the team’s plans for Miller. “We’ll try to limit him to maybe a 3- and a 1-technique and try to cut down his learning and stuff like that.”
Along with providing raw talent and pass-rushing instincts built into him by Bears’ defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, Miller has also provided the Packers with knowledge of Chicago’s offensive line, a unit that returns many of the players he scouted against last year on its practice squad.
Over the last two weeks, Miller has spent extra time digesting the team playbook while meeting this week with some of his fellow defensive linemen to walk-through what he’s learned in preparation for his first work of the season.
Now, Miller wants to show the Bears what they forfeited when they cut him loose, along with proving to himself he still has plenty of football left in him after playing 31 career games at Southern with 90 tackles, 18 sacks and 30 tackles for loss.
“I thank God the Packers saw fit to give me a workout and this has happened out of it a couple weeks later,” Miller said. “I always have to remember that’s what I was doing, just on the couch and working out on my own, watching movies all day.
“It’s very exciting with a lot of motivation to actually be able to play this game and go against those guys and show them they made a mistake letting me go earlier this year.”
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