Recent headlines are suggesting that Heath Miller, tight end for the Pittsburgh Steelers, may not be ready to play by week 1 of the regular season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Cincinnati Bengals 13-10 in the second-to-last game of the season. Losing this game was detrimental because it caused the Steelers to miss the playoffs. Although not competing in the playoffs was difficult for Steeler Nation to swallow, what was more difficult to choke down was the injury Miller suffered in that game. Missing the playoffs is short term; Miller’s injury poses a problem this upcoming season too. This is crucial because Miller is a vital part of the Steelers’ offense.
The tight end tore his ACL, MCL and PCL and had to undergo surgery to repair the damage. The Steelers can’t afford to have Miller out too long. Miller last season amassed 816 yards on 71 receptions, a career high for the tight end. Miller also added 8 touchdowns to his name. Miller was named MVP for the team last season; this makes him the first tight end in Steelers history to win the honor. Along with being voted MVP by the team, he was named a Pro-Bowl selection as well, a Pro-Bowl he was unable to compete in due to the injury.
Miller is an essential part of the Steeler’s offensive attack; he is one of Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite targets on the field. Miller is highly underrated. His ability to be consistently efficient every season should not be taken for granted by the team, fans or coaching staff. Miller always seems to come up with big catches, especially in the red zone. With the Steelers’ lack of run game in recent years, Miller’s contributions in the red zone have been vastly important. If Miller is out for a long period of time and the run game is sub-par at best, there is no doubt that scoring in the red zone will be a struggle for the Steelers.
Miller will definitely be placed on the PUP list when training camp begins. Veteran tight end Matt Spaeth is expected to take the reps in training camp and will most likely be the week 1 starter if Miller is unable to go. Other than Spaeth the Steelers have David Paulson and David Johnson to possibly fill the role. However, none of these men even come close to the talent level of Miller.
Miller has been reported to be doing well in his recovery. Roethlisberger told WDVE-FM, “He’s walking without a limp. From what I saw I think he looked good.” According to ESPN.com, Miller said, “I’m just trying to get better every day, and I’m doing what I’ve been asked to do.” While these are positive statements to hear, Steeler Nation needs to keep their fingers crossed and hope for an Adrian Peterson-like-recovery. If Miller can bounce back and return to the field at 100 percent then the Steelers should be confident in their tight end to come up big and win games for them. Starting week 1 is still up in the air for Miller, more answers will come once training camp begins to wind down.