View Full Version : Steelers TE Heath Miller quietly leads by example

08-25-2011, 02:47 AM
Steelers TE Miller quietly leads by example

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Miller may be averse to calling attention to himself, but the Steelers know better when it comes to one of the best tight ends in franchise history.

The essence of Heath Miller could be seen in an unremarkable scene Wednesday in the Steelers' locker room.

Miller had been trying to downplay something receiver Hines Ward said about his work ethic, though the veteran tight end conceded he usually arrives at Steelers headquarters at 6:30 a.m.

A couple of minutes later, Miller called a reporter back over. By the time he got to the weight room that morning, Miller said, outside linebacker James Harrison already was drenched in sweat.

It was Miller's way of deflecting attention, and he went out of his way to do it.

His teammates voted him an offensive co-captain in 2010 because of how hard, if quietly, he works. And Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has long said Miller's value is at least a fly pattern beyond the statistics he posts.

When told Miller ranks 13th among tight ends in a poll of the NFL's top 200 players by Scouts Inc., Arians chuckled.

"I think he's the best pure tight end in the league," Arians said. "Most of those guys are not tight ends; they're wide receivers. They don't block anybody. They can't block anybody."

The 6-foot-5, 256-pound Miller is a proven blocker, and he has caught enough passes to rank second in receiving yards (3,233) for a tight end in franchise history.

Miller's production dipped last season after he caught a career-high 76 passes in 2009 and made the Pro Bowl. The absence of starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the first four games didn't help. And Miller missed two games near the end of the season after getting knocked out of the Ravens game with a concussion.

Miller may find it difficult to improve significantly on the 42 receptions he made last season even if he plays every game. The Steelers have what Arians calls the best receiving corps since he joined the team in 2004.

He said he will use some five wide receiver sets and admitted that it could be a delicate balance keeping everybody happy.

"That's the key with our offense now: You cannot get selfish," Arians said "As long as everybody stays with that, and contracts don't get in the way, we could be pretty solid. The minute selfishness creeps in, it can tear you down real quick."

Arians doesn't have to worry about that when it comes to Miller, who never badgers Roethlisberger about being open or getting him the ball.

"I understand how hard Ben's job is as a quarterback," Miller said. "If Ben asks me if I was open and I was, I'll tell him. If he asks me if I was covered and I was covered, I'm going to tell him I was covered. He's looking for honest feedback, and I think if everyone gives him that, it makes his job a little bit easier."

That is quintessential Miller.

"Not a showboat, just straps his helmet and goes about his business," Ward said. "That's what you love about him. I thought I come in early, but he's already here in the shower by the time I get here. He's probably one of the first ones in the building and the last ones to leave."

That work ethic is one why Miller has missed just four games in six seasons. Naturally, he shrugs off all that he puts into football away from the field.

"I've come to realize what I need to have to continue doing to be effective as a player, not only at the (beginning) of the season but at the end of the season," Miller said. "I get my work in, and I know that's going to pay off week 13 or 14 or 15."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... z1W0rhaf4g (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_753283.html#ixzz1W0rhaf4g)

08-25-2011, 09:33 AM
Love Heath's attitude and work ethic.

I do wish the Steelers could find a way to get him into more plays as a receiver, and that Ben would look for him more. I think he is probably the most under-utilized great weapon on this team.

08-25-2011, 10:04 AM
How the heck is every player the first one in the building and the last to leave?

08-25-2011, 10:06 AM
What is truly frightening is that we now have David Johnson backing up Heath as the #2.

08-25-2011, 10:24 AM
How the heck is every player the first one in the building and the last to leave?

Jonathan Dwyer is not. :stirpot

08-25-2011, 12:49 PM
How the heck is every player the first one in the building and the last to leave?

Jonathan Dwyer is not. :stirpot

If the building is Cracker Barrel or Burger King, he is.

08-25-2011, 01:08 PM
What is truly frightening is that we now have David Johnson backing up Heath as the #2.

Johnson is only marginally more frightening than Spaeth. And, Saunders could develop by midseason into a good receiving TE and decent blocker (if he makes the team).

08-25-2011, 04:51 PM
Steelers seek total package at tight end

By F. Dale Lolley, Staff writer dlolley@observer-reporter.com


PITTSBURGH - When the Steelers paraded veteran tight ends Daniel Graham, Reggie Kelly and John Gilmore through training camp, many figured the team was looking for someone to play the primary backup role behind starter Heath Miller.

Despite the signing of Gilmore, a 10-year veteran, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said Wednesday there has never been any doubt who Miller's primary backup will be.

David Johnson has served as an H-back with the Steelers in his first two seasons, behind Miller second-stringer Matt Spaeth, filling in more as a fullback than a tight end. But after Spaeth signed as a free agent with Chicago, Arians felt Johnson was ready to fill a bigger role.

"He is No. 2. He has been. There has never been a doubt in my mind," Arians said of Johnson. "He's a good blocker at the line of scrimmage and in the backfield, and he's improving as a receiver. I have all the confidence in him blocking whomever he's supposed to block."

Despite the addition of Gilmore, a 10-year veteran out of Penn State, the battle for the third tight end position remains wide open. Rookie Wesyle Saunders, who's more of a receiver, and first-year player Jamie McCoy, who fits an H-back role, also are fighting for the roster spot.

The Steelers' preseason game Saturday at Heinz Field against Atlanta could go a long way toward somebody winning that battle. NFL teams must trim their rosters to 75 players by Tuesday and to 53 after the final preseason game.

"Heath is the true tight end. David can play true tight end, there's no problem with that," Arians said. "He can also give you the ability to go in the backfield. The rest of those guys are fighting to establish those roles. ... Are they more receivers or blockers? We'd like to have another total package, but I don't see one out there right now."

The Steelers' third tight end is significant because Arians often likes to put three on the field to cause defenses matchup problems.

"We don't undervalue anyone's job on the team, whether it be the starting tight end, second-team tight end or third tight end," said Miller. "Everyone has to be capable of doing their job. Third tight end is in there in most short-yardage situations and goal-line situations. Those are critical parts of the game."

Many believe tight ends havelong been underutilized in the Steelers' passing attack, and last year Miller caught only 42 passes, his lowest total since 2006.

The Steelers expect to get more out of Miller in the passing game this year. He set a team record for receptions by a tight end in 2009 with 76, and Arians feels his dropoff was caused more by circumstance than design.

The Steelers didn't throw the ball much in the first month of the season when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was serving a suspension, and Miller missed two games in December with a concussion.

"That was really like him missing six games," Arians said.

Miller and Spaeth each missed the game at Baltimore, allowing Johnson to set up at the line of scrimmage.

"That was my first time getting to do it on the big stage, playing a team like Baltimore," said Johnson, who caught three passes for 37 yards in that game. "It was a big confidence boost. It let me know that I've still got it, I can still do it in the NFL as well."

http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/spo ... tight-ends (http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/sports11/08-25-2011-Steelers-tight-ends)