TE Miller closer to returning for Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller could play Sunday night against the visiting Chicago Bears, but coach Mike Tomlin cautioned fans not to expect the veteran tight end to fix all that ails one of the worst offenses in the NFL.
PITTSBURGH -- Steelers tight end Heath Miller could play Sunday night against the visiting Chicago Bears, but coach Mike Tomlin cautioned fans not to expect the veteran tight end to fix all that ails one of the worst offenses in the NFL.
"We're not expecting Heath to step out of a phone booth with a cape on," Tomlin said Tuesday at his weekly news conference.
Miller, who is coming back from reconstructive knee surgery, has made steady progress since the Steelers activated him from the physically unable to perform list on Aug. 31.
A limited participant in practice last week, Miller is scheduled to take part in all drills this week, giving the Steelers' 2012 MVP a chance of playing against the 2-0 Bears at Heinz Field. Miller is one of the best all-around tight ends in the league, and his return would help a running game that has mustered 75 yards in the first two games.
The 6-foot-5, 256-pounder could also take pressure off starting wide receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders by providing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with a trusted target to work the middle of the field.
Tomlin on Tuesday pinned the blame on his club's unproductive offense as the primary reason for an 0-2 start.
"The most significant reason is we're not scoring enough points," said Tomlin, whose team has two touchdowns in the first two games. "Nineteen points in two football games is not going to win a lot of football in this league. If you would have told me we'd score 19 points through the first two ballgames, I would have told you we'd have an opportunity to be 0-2. We understand that and we are working hard to rectify that."
Miller caught 71 passes for a career-high 816 yards last season before tearing several ligaments in his right knee, including his ACL, in the Steelers' penultimate game of 2012. It has been only about nine months since then, which is why the Steelers won't rush him back despite the dire state of the offense.
"Heath is a good player and he's going to be a positive contributor to our efforts when he comes back," Tomlin said. "But we're not sitting around holding our breath waiting for Heath Miller to come back. The guys that are ready to play and healthy are preparing to do so, and they are capable. If Heath is one of them, great. If he's not, we'll continue to work."
Steeler tight ends have combined for four catches for 50 yards in two games.
David Paulson caught a 34-yard pass in the Steelers' 20-10 loss Monday night at Cincinnati but fumbled at the end of the play.
A more critical swing came later, when Roethlisberger and Brown hooked up on a 33-yard pass play early in the third quarter. The completion would have given the Steelers the ball at the Bengals' 30-yard line in a 10-10 game, but right tackle Marcus Gilbert was flagged for tripping.
The offense mostly sputtered after that penalty negated a key first down.
Gilbert, who took out a Bengals defender as he was falling to the ground, said it was an "awful call."
Tomlin said Tuesday that it was an incorrect one.
"It wasn't a trip, but those guys are going to miss calls and we've got to be good enough to overcome it," Tomlin said. "[Referees] work their tail off. They're not going to be perfect."
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