Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin said today that tight end Heath Miller would be a full participant in practice this week. Typically by NFL standards that can be translated into, “Heath Miller will play on Sunday night.”
The return of Miller to the Steelers offense is currently running a close second to the return of the Messiah to Earth in terms of importance to Steelers’ fans.
The first two games of the season have shown how much Ben Roethlisberger relies on last year’s team MVP as his go-to receiver.
With Miller coming back the Steelers will obviously re-gain one of the best all-around tight ends in the league. Just as important is the threat he poses on the field and how he can open up things for the other receivers.
With no Heath Miller, Tennessee and Cincinnati had no reason to respect the tight end combo of David Paulson and David Johnson. This allowed them to focus their attention elsewhere leaving Roethlisberger few options.
That will change for the Bears on Sunday night and the timing couldn’t be better because of the Bears’ very talented secondary.
I’m sorry to have to now rain on the Heath Miller parade here but his return will not eliminate every issue this team has right now. He will certainly block better than either Johnson or Paulson but he cannot be relied on to assist tackles Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams and catch passes at the same time.
Todd Haley must use Miller judiciously. Besides, can we really expect Miller to return so quickly to his all-pro self from last year?
Heath Miller cannot block from all five spots on the line and he cannot run the football. He cannot get any extra pressure on the opposing quarterback and he can’t help much in forcing turnovers.
The Steelers and their fans will have to settle instead for his presence back on the field. For many of us, that will be a welcome sight despite what he may or may not be able to do.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.