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fordfixer
10-13-2009, 01:37 AM
Miller's in the 'Money'

By: Mike Bires -
Beaver County Times

Tuesday October 13, 2009 12:10 AM
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sport ... money.html (http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sports_details/article/1424/2009/october/13/millers-in-the-money.html)


Several Steelers have catchy nicknames, but none more fitting than Heath Miller’s.

Ben Roethlisberger is “Big Ben.”

James Harrison is “Deebo.”

Brett Keisel is “Diesel.”

Casey Hampton is “Big Snack.”

But when Miller’s teammates at the University of Virginia started calling him “Big Money,” they gave him a very appropriate nickname.

When he played for the Cavaliers, Miller was a pass-catching machine with 71 receptions as a junior and 41 as a senior when he won the Mackey Award as the best tight end in the country.

Since coming to Pittsburgh as a first-round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, the Steelers have long regarded him as one of the most complete tight ends in the league.

Through his first four pro seasons, Miller has posted respectable pass-catching numbers while excelling as a blocker. This year, Miller has been outstanding in both areas.

Since signing a lucrative contract extension right before the start of training camp, Miller has indeed been “Big Money.”

With 29 catches, he ranks seventh in the NFL. He also leads the Steelers with three touchdown catches.

He is proving the Steelers right for signing him to a six-year extension worth $35.3 million, a $12.5 million signing bonus included.

After signing his new deal, the soft-spoken Miller was asked if he would demand that more passes be thrown in his direction.

“No,” said Miller, who’s caught 39, 34, 47 and 49 passes, respectively, the past four years. “But I did negotiate for less media time.”
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With the way he’s playing, Miller will likely get more press.

Right now, the only tight end in the league with more catches is Indianapolis’ Dallas Clark with 35. San Diego’s Antonio Gates isn’t far behind with 24, and the Chargers didn’t play this past weekend.

Still, this could be the year Miller finally makes it to the Pro Bowl.

“I’ve always felt he’s the best tight end in the AFC,” Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said.

“When he’s blocking, he’s like another lineman, and when he’s out in pass patterns he’s another receiver,” Roethlisberger said. “We’ve been throwing the ball a lot, and he’s been a focal point of this offense. He’s been getting open.”

At his current pace, Miller would finish with 93 catches. That would shatter the Steelers’ record for a tight end set in by Eric Green when he caught 63 passes in 1993.

While that projection of 93 is 44 more than he caught last year, the Steelers have become a passing team. Roethlisberger is second in the league in passing yards, first in completion percentage and he’s spreading the ball around to wide receivers Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes and Mike Wallace, and to Miller.

“To tell you the truth, I haven’t even thought about the Pro Bowl,” Miller said. “That’s too far down the line. If it happens, that would be great. But I’m more concerned about helping this team win and helping us get back to the Super Bowl.

“The way I look at it, when you get your opportunities, you make the most of them.”

So far, “Big Money” is doing just that.