TE Heath Miller named Steelers MVP, undergoes knee surgery
By Chris Adamski | CBSSports.com
Quite the Thursday for TE Heath Miller. He underwent knee surgery that will lead to months of grueling rehabilitation -- and he also was named the Steelers' most valuable player.
Miller, who leads Pittsburgh in receptions and is tied for the team lead in touchdowns, is the first tight end to win the award, which dates to 1969.
"No question... he definitely deserves it," says WR Antonio Brown, who was the Steelers' MVP last year. "He had a great year. He's unselfish, blocks hard, plays hard -- and not only when the ball is coming his way. He's a guy we respect tremendously around here."
Also Thursday, the Steelers named OT Mike Adams their rookie of the year, and NT Casey Hampton was "The Chief Award" winner, which goes to the member of the organization who best exemplifies the spirit of cooperation with the media.
The rookie of the year (officially called the "Joe Greene Great Performance Award") and Chief Award are voted on by members of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association. But the team MVP is voted on by the Steelers players.
"I think I put 83 down about five times on my ballot," QB Ben Roethlisberger said. "He's a guy that deserves it, and I'm glad he got it."
Miller has career highs in touchdown receptions (eight) and receiving yards (816) on a career-high 101 targets. His 71 receptions are seven more than both Brown and WR Mike Wallace have. If that team lead holds, Miller would be the first tight end to lead the Steelers in catches since Eric Green in 1993.
Miller was named to the AFC's Pro Bowl team for the second time. The first time was in 2009, when he had a career-high 76 catches.
Miller had a chance to match or surpass that this season, but he tore multiple ligaments in his right knee late in Sunday's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, ending his season.
The consensus in the Steelers locker room is that Miller deserves to be a perennial Pro Bowler but that his lack of gaudy offensive numbers often keep him out. Miller's blocking skills are as highly coveted as his pass-catching.
"You've got tight ends out there like Antonio Gates and Dallas Clark -- when he was in Indy -- that were putting up receiver-like numbers," said Roethlisberger, who is one of Miller's closest friends on the team. "Heath never did that, but he did more than just catch balls and score touchdowns. He blocked and he did a lot of other things. That's why I think he's appreciated here in this locker room and by opponents in the AFC North. You talk to AFC North opponents, they'll give him his due credit. He just didn't put up those wide receiver numbers. I'm just glad that he's finally getting the recognition that he deserves around the league."