While the Steelers’ Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant get the bulk of attention from opposing defenses (and rightfully so), Steelers’ tight end Heath Miller and wide receiver Markus Wheaton have become key cogs in the Steelers’ offensive machine.
For Miller, it’s nothing new. He’s been the security blanket of Ben Roethlisberger for a decade and when you look back at Sunday’s game you could see why. At one point, Roethlisberger was scrambling out of the pocket and had a defender tugging on him from his left. Big Ben quickly spotted Miller out of his right eye and flipped the ball to him in a play that resembled an option pitch. It went in the books as a rush for Miller but in essence was another example of how important he is to Roethlisberger.
Bengals’ fans will likely have nightmares of Miller for some time. In two games this season Miller has accounted for 20 receptions and 171 yards. Miller is never going to be confused with Rob Gronkowski, but what he provides for the offense and Roethlisberger is quite frankly immeasurable.
As for Wheaton, his struggles have been evident at times. From pesky injuries in recent seasons to just not being on the right page with his quarterback. That all seems to be changing though.
Today on his radio show on 93.7 The Fan, Roethlisberger talked about the maturation and development of Wheaton. “It wasn’t that I needed to have confidence in him, he needed to have confidence in himself,” said Roethlisberger. Big Ben pointed to the Seattle game as a major boost not only in Wheaton’s self-confidence and claims it has made a huge difference in the weeks since.
The Denver Broncos boast two very good cornerbacks in Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. Both will likely face their toughest challenges of the season in having to deal with Brown and Bryant but that’s where Miller and Wheaton come in. I mentioned Miller’s big games against Cincinnati, but in the last three weeks Wheaton has reeled in 16 catches for 306 yards and two scores.
Basically, Denver has to pick their poison so to speak. They will try to get pressure on Roethlisberger and eliminate the running game but even then they’ll have to account for three speedy receivers and one solid tight end. I would be surprised if we don’t see big days from both of these guys again this week.
Photos courtesy yahoo.com and ap.com