Steelers Training Camp: Heath Miller talks about his injury and repeating
August 3, 5:24 AM · Matt Pawlikowski - Pittsburgh Sports Examiner
LATROBE - In today's complex NFL offensive schemes, the tight end has become more of an extra receiver on the field.
Antonio Gates is just one example. Then there is the Steelers Heath Miller.
The 6-foot-5, 256-pound has 168 catches for 1,932 yards, an 11.5 yards per reception average during his career along with 21 touchdowns during his career. But it is his blocking skills that play a huge reason in the success of the Steelers offense.
“I think the tight end plays a big role in pretty much every offense of every team in the NFL," Miller said. "Guys aren’t just used to blocking anymore; they’re used in the passing game. Every team in the NFL has a good tight end that’s capable of doing good things and there seems to be a little bit more value put on it now.”
Obviously Millers value to the Steelers went with notice. Just prior to the start of camp, he signed a contract that will keep a Steeler the rest of his career.
"I couldn't think of a better place to spend your career than Pittsburgh," Miller said. "I was very fortunate to be drafted here in the first place and to be given the opportunity to be here a few more years."
Which is why it came as a surprise that as the Steelers began camp, one player was noticeably absent from a majority of the drills.
It was Miller, who is recovering from off-season sports hernia surgery.
"It started to bother me in the spring," Miller said. "I've been down that road before so I thought it better to get it taken care of then. But it feels better now and it is what it is. I'm feeling a whole lot better and I'm ready to go and get the season going."
As for the 2009 season, Miller is one of the veterans who returns from the last time the Steelers won a Super Bowl. The following year proved to be a disaster for that team as they struggled to a 2-6 start and missed the playoffs.
He says that the team has a different focus this year.
"It's a good thing, (being the defending champs) but we know we have to put in the work here, and to start building again," Miller said. " We have to have good practices to get back in the swing of things, because we know the second time around it isn't an easy thing."
Miller said that one of the things he is looking forward to this season, is watching the progress of both Limas Sweed and Rashaard Mendenhall.
Sweed, has looked extremely focused during camp thus far, and did well during 11-on-11 drills on Sunday while Mendenhall is healthy again and raring to go.
"I'm excited for those guys, obviously they have a ton of talent," Miller said. "They have been here a year so we expect them to step in and be a big part of the team when their number is called. I'm excited to see that."
Injury report: Lawrence Timmons was inactive again on Sunday, but only as a precautionary measure. Hines Ward was also not in uniform, but was given the day off. Hartwig saw some action while Miller was not participating. Ra'Shon Harris was out with a groin injury.
Frank the tank is Tanked : For those out there that think the team will miss Bryant McFadden, William Gay sure is making people second guess that notion.
On the first day of practice he had a nice interception. Then duing Sunday's practice he gave the rookie running back a lesson in reality.
Gay made a bone jarring hit on Summers who weighs nearly twice as much as him, and knocked the football loose.
"When you have a nickname like 'The Tank,' guys are going to try you," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "They want him to prove that that nickname is earned. That's the story of the National Football League. This is a show-me game. He's starting to understand that."