Judging by the way Week 1 went, Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers will take any good news that they can get their hands on.
Some good news could be on the way in the form of tight end Heath Miller.
According to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora (as transcribed by CBS Pittsburgh), Miller surprisingly could make his first start as early as Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“Miller has impressed the Steelers with his recovery as well, being activated from the PUP list only recently, and a return for Week 2 is likely in his case,” he writes. “Miller was a vital cog in coordinator Todd Haley’s offense a year ago, the team is thin at tight end and faces a critical game against the Bengals in the second week.”
The timetable is a bit surprising as Miller underwent major knee surgery only last December, but all along the Steelers have said that he was way ahead of schedule and his quick rehab could pay off in a big way Monday night. Miller’s presence would help an offense that got off to a lousy start.
First of all, he will play a big role in the running game.
Miller’s always been a great blocker and to replace him the plan was to play offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum at tight end in big sets. However once Maurkice Pouncey went down Beachum had to move to center, where he will likely start against the Bengals, and that plan went to waste. Not that Beachum would have helped a great deal, but we saw the results in the fact that the Steelers ran for a mere 32 yards on Sunday.
Then there’s the obvious and that’s the fact that Miller gives quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a weapon in the passing game in the middle of the field. In his absence, Steelers tight ends caught only one pass (David Johnson) against the Titans.
Finally there’s the fact that he helps in pass protection a great deal.
Johnson and David Paulson were unable to do a good job on the edge as Tennessee was able to provide constant pressure to Roethlisberger all game.
You have to wonder if Miller is ready to go or if this is just a potential move being made after watching his replacements turn in a less-than-acceptable performance.
Either way, if he is ready to go, there is no time like the present to get Miller back on the field.