Heath Miller finding his way into the end zone
Steelers notebook: Miller finding his way to end zone
By Alan Robinson
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Steelers tight end Heath Miller scores a second-quarter touchdown against the Redskins on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, at Heinz Field
This hasn’t happened often: A tight end leads the Steelers in touchdown receptions seven games into a season.
Heath Miller has six touchdowns among his 35 receptions.
“A little bit. It’s not a huge difference,” Miller said of what the Todd Haley offense has meant to his upgraded role. “We’ve got a lot of the same plays, maybe some more opportunities in terms as the red zone but there are no drastic differences.”
Haley’s three receivers-one tight end formation creates mismatches for Miller, although he said coverages vary from a safety to a nickel back to a linebacker.
“I’m not ready to say it is a tight end offense,” Miller said. “Opportunities are going to come and go. Maybe six weeks from now you’ll be asking why we’re not throwing to the tight end.”
ELI VS. BEN III
Giants quarterback Eli Manning was the No. 1 pick in 2004; Roethlisberger was No. 11. Between them, they have won four Super Bowls (two apiece). The Ben-Eli matchup Sunday will be only the third between them in nine seasons. Roethlisberger won in 2004; Manning won at Heinz Field in 2008. Roethlisberger had 505 yards passing to Manning’s 381, but Manning had only one interception to Roethlisberger’s six.
Miller’s time? Giants game could be opportunity for tight end to shine
By F. Dale Lolley
PITTSBURGH – While watching the film of the New York Giants’ most recent game, a 29-24 victory Sunday at Dallas, the Steelers couldn’t help but notice that Cowboys tight end Jason Witten caught pass after pass, finishing with a team-record 18 receptions.
Though the Cowboys didn’t win the game, they rallied from a 23-0 first-half deficit by taking what the Giants gave them, dinking and dunking their way down the field.
With an offense that has been described as “dink and dunk,” the Steelers’ (4-3) game Sunday in New York (6-2) might be a perfect matchup. Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t look at the dink-and-dunk description used for first-year offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s offense as a negative.
“When I grew up, the 49ers, that’s what they did. That’s the West Coast offense,” said Roethlisberger. “I’m not saying we’re a West Coast offense, but dink and dunk is not a negative term. We’re taking advantage of our quick wide receivers, running backs, tight ends, especially when teams take away the big play downfield. That’s what’s open.”
It’s working especially well for tight end Heath Miller. The eight-year veteran is having perhaps his best season, catching 35 passes for 336 yards and a team-high six touchdowns.
“ With ( Haley’s) offense, he’s given me the opportunity to do a few more things, especially in the red zone and down the field,” said Miller.
And Miller is making the most of those chances. His six touchdowns are the second-most most by a tight end in the NFL behind New England’s Rob Gronkowski (7), and the 35 receptions has Miller on pace to surpass his career high of 76 receptions set in 2009.
Miller’s six scores are one fewer than his career high of seven set in 2007, but with Roethlisberger looking more his way in the red zone, the Steelers record for touchdowns in a season of 12 – held by Hines Ward, Louis Lipps and Buddy Dial – is within reach.
“He’s a great player. I have comfort in him,” said Roethlisberger. “He’s just getting open and we are calling more things for him.”
Against a Giants defense that couldn’t stop Witten, the Steelers figure to have plenty of pass plays called for Miller.
“I know it was a 10- to 12-yard out route almost every time,” Roethlisberger said. “I don’t think the Giants minded giving up that play. I think they just didn’t want to give up the one-play touchdown.”
The strategy could be the same against the Steelers.
Because of Pittsburgh’s big-play wide receivers, Miller has been getting many one-on-one matchups – at least outside the red zone. Near the goal line, he’s seeing a lot more attention.
“Any time you catch a few touchdowns, defenses target you,” Miller said. “They pick a different guy to target. It’s different week in and week out. Ben does a good job of buying time if everybody’s covered. But it’s tough to put two guys on me when you have the threats that we have on the outside.”
Odds and end zones
Safety Ryan Clark, who suffered a concussion Sunday against Washington, passed the NFLmandated tests and was cleared to practice. “ It wasn’t a situation where I was out on the field. I wasn’t knocked out,” said Clark, who must pass another test Friday to be cleared to play against the Giants. “I got dinged. It was a football play. I’d venture to say that I’ve been in that situation before and not taken out of the game or not told anybody. ... I feel good.” ... The Steelers released safety Damon Cromartie-Smith and activated rookie nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu from the reserve/ suspended list. Ta’amu had been suspended the two games after being arrested for DUI and other charges three weeks ago. “ It was a big mistake, one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made in my life. It won’t happen again,” said Ta’amu, a fourth-round draft pick. ... Running back Jonathan Dwyer (quad), safety Troy Polamalu (Achilles), offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle) and linebackers LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) and Stevenson Sylvester (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday. ... Receiver Emmanuel Sanders has been asked to meet with NFL officials Saturday in New York to discuss an injury he suffered late in a win over Cincinnati two weeks ago. Some have questioned whether Sanders was faking the injury to give the Steelers an extra timeout.
I've always had a hunch that Heath Miller needed Hines Ward to retire to start becoming one of the focal pieces of the offense.
Now he's got another young WR on the rise that's going to compete for some of his catches and it's Manny Sanders. Not sure what the exact numbers are, but it looks like Ben goes to Heath or Sanders to convert 3rd downs. If Sanders is becoming the go to WR on 3rd down, it's only a matter of time that he starts scoring TDs.
I have a bit of a conspiracy theory - the Steelers don't want Sanders scoring TDs yet so they can avoid paying him given Brown's contract and Wally's potential contract. And I think once Sanders signs his next contract, then he'll start to explode.
Originally Posted by flippy
Not sure about your theory but I do think Sanders is a player on the rise. He seems to have a knack for getting open.
- Charles Harris-OLB, Missouri
- Rasul Douglas-CB, West Virginia
- Chris Godwin-WR, Penn State
- John Johnson-S, Boston College
- James Conner-RB, Pitt
- Nazair Jones-DT, North Carolina
- Garrett Sickels, DE/OLB, Penn State