When Roy Miller found out he’d snapped his Achilles tendon in Week 7 against the Raiders last season, he feared the worst.
Miller, 30, knew that Achilles injuries were difficult to rehab and that players often don’t return from such injuries as good as they used to be.
“I was like ‘Man, you know, it’s probably over for me,’” Miller said.
But eventually, Miller — a high-effort defensive tackle known for his run-stuffing ability — got over those fears. And Derrick Johnson, a fellow Texas Longhorn and his new teammate with the Chiefs, played a role in that.
Johnson, of course, snapped his Achilles in the season opener against Tennessee in 2014. Johnson returned the next season to lead the Chiefs in tackles as he looked every bit the player he used to be.
“He’s one of the first people I reached out to,” said Miller, who signed with the Chiefs on Wednesday. “He showed me some of the videos he was doing. We shared the same therapist. Everything. Same rehab, I did the same workouts he did.”
Miller, who played with the Jaguars last season, said he’s long looked up to Johnson, who was more than willing to help a fellow Longhorn.
“The things I was doing in recovery, I was telling him and FaceTiming him, so it is kind of ironic that he is on the team now,” Johnson said with a laugh. “He is a big, strong guy. He is more of a nose sort of guy, but a strong guy that can help us.”
Starting defensive end Chris Jones is currently on the physically-unable-to-perform list after he hurt his knee while training a month ago, but the club is still optimistic Jones will be able to play when the season starts.
So the addition of Miller, who is listed at 6 feet 2 and 318 pounds, was more about securing the nose guard position, where Bennie Logan will start. In the event Logan were to get hurt, this will keep the Chiefs from having to move backup linemen Jarvis Jenkins and Rakeem Nunez-Roches — who fare better at three-technique tackle, the spot next to the nose — to play out of position.
That’s why the Chiefs brought Miller in for a workout on Sunday. And after they got a closer look at him, they decided to sign him to a one-year worth $1.4 million, according to NFL Network. Miller had been due to make $3.6 million this year before he was released in March by Jacksonville.
“I had just gotten settled from coming back from Buffalo,” Miller said, “(and) I got the call the same day asking me to come out. Everything happened so fast; I did not know that this was an opportunity. It has been a whirlwind for me.”
Miller said the Chiefs’ recent success — they’ve made the playoffs three of the last four years — played a role in his decision.
“There are a lot of things players achieve in their careers — I think that at the end of all of it you just want to win, to be a part of something that has a high chance to win it all,” Miller said. “It definitely was a priority of mine. I had to reconsider a lot of teams that visited.”
As far as fit goes, Miller sees himself playing well here. In Jacksonville’s hybrid 3-4, 4-3 defense, he was asked to play over the center and over the guard. He played as a tilt nose tackle, though the Chiefs haven’t done much of that since Andy Reid arrived as head coach.
“I think a lot of it crosses over,” Miller said. “I know I can play both, so I’m excited to go out and show it.”
Miller does have experience getting upfield and making plays. A starter in Jacksonville since 2013, he recorded 62 tackles and five sacks from 2013 to 2015 while mainly being asked to eat up double teams and penetrate — not that he’s generated much attention for it.
“I do all that,” Miller said. “I’ve been one of the best run stoppers in the league, whether we know it or not. And one of the most underrated players.
“So who cares about what other people say? You go ask these guys, offensive linemen around the league, they know. They know. That’s all I bring to the table. I’m gonna give it all I’ve got. I’m going to be a leader, try to push guys. I’m going to do all I can to make this team better.
Miller said the only thing holding him back is the terminology, which he doesn’t expect to take long to master.
After all, he’s still got his guy D.J. in his corner, this time as a teammate.
“We’ve been talking about the scheme a lot, and I look forward to talking to him today more about everything in terms of terminology,” Miller said. “It’s very important to get on the same page with him — he knows everything.”