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Old 11-26-2011, 08:25 AM   #1
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Default Steelers: A twist in Heath Miller's tale

Steelers: A twist in Heath Miller's tale
Brown's emergence at WR opens lanes for veteran tight end
Saturday, November 26, 2011
By Sam Werner, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

With 324, Heath Miller is five catches away from the Steelers career record for tight ends.

When Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians implored his unit Wednesday to focus on team goals rather than individual accolades, veteran tight end Heath Miller likely didn't need the reminder.

When told that he was five catches away from the Steelers record for tight ends, Miller shrugged his shoulders.

"I didn't know that," he said. "It is what it is. I'm sure at some point you can take time to look back and reflect on things, but now is not the time. Hopefully, now we're just focused on winning games at the end of the year. Those things will come as you win."

Miller has 324 catches in his career, trailing only Elbie Nickel's 329. His four catches in Week 7 moved him past Franco Harris for sixth place on the all-time Steelers list.

After a somewhat slow start, Miller has seen his role in the passing game increase in recent weeks. With the exception of a five-catch showing against Indianapolis in Week 3, he caught three or fewer passes in each of the first five games.

Since then, Miller has had more passes thrown his way. He had his best game this season in the Week 8 win against New England, when he caught seven passes for 85 yards. He got involved early and often against the Patriots, with six first-half receptions for 76 yards.

"That's just the way things shake out sometimes," he said. "We have a lot of talented receivers on the team, and teams choose to try and match up more, take our receivers out of the game, maybe it gives the tight ends more opportunities underneath."

The emergence of Antonio Brown has helped Miller's production. In four games since Week 7 against Arizona, when Brown had seven catches for 102 yards, Miller equaled his catch total from the first six games combined.

Miller, Brown and Mike Wallace have combined for 135 catches this season, and are the only trio of teammates ranked in the top 15 in the AFC in catches.

"We've got a lot of really good receivers who are capable of beating you deep, and I think defenses are trying to limit the big plays and make us go the long way, so to speak," Miller said. "With that, I guess more catches come to the underneath routes, the short and intermediate stuff."

Miller's emergence has also coincided with Hines Ward filling a more limited role in the offense. It might be easy to say that Miller is simply replacing Ward, who was best in the short and intermediate passing game. Miller, though, said that wasn't necessarily the case.

"I think we can run those routes out of different packages, and we have since I've been here," he said. "It's just the way things have shaken out, and I don't think anything's changed in that regard."

Miller has been a model of consistency since being drafted by the Steelers in 2005, missing only four games over his seven-year career. The team's Week 9 loss to Baltimore was his 100th career start.

Arians said that consistency has helped Miller find his role in the Steelers offense as new players like Brown and fellow receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Jericho Cotchery entered the mix.

"We don't have to force it to anybody anymore," Arians said. "It's just who gets open gets the ball, and everybody's throwing their hand in the pile to make sure they're getting open. Teams that want to double cover us outside, it's going to open up the inside people."

Though he's clearly not a fan of individual statistics, here's one Miller would enjoy: After the 32-20 win against Arizona in which Miller caught a scoring pass, the team is 22-6 when he scores a touchdown.

"I think the most important thing is to put ourselves in position to do something," Miller said.

"There's still a lot of football left, and I think there'll be a lot of separation over the next six games.

"Hopefully, we separate ourselves in a good way."

Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1459.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11330...#ixzz1eoztH43R
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Old 11-26-2011, 09:39 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers: A twist in Heath Miller's tale

I've always admired Heath's attitude, unselfishness and most of all toughness. It's pretty tough when you (Heath, the recipiant of a hit) sends the hitter summersalting (spelling!?) backward three yards!!
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Old 11-26-2011, 12:39 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers: A twist in Heath Miller's tale

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Originally Posted by BengalDestroyer View Post
I've always admired Heath's attitude, unselfishness and most of all toughness. It's pretty tough when you (Heath, the recipiant of a hit) sends the hitter summersalting (spelling!?) backward three yards!!
He's exactly what he's called by the fans at Heinz Field. A Moooossseeeee.
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Old 11-27-2011, 12:15 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers: A twist in Heath Miller's tale

Heath is a Steeler and the perfect example of one. I wouldn't trade him for any other player out there!
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Old 11-27-2011, 01:19 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers: A twist in Heath Miller's tale

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Originally Posted by skinart82 View Post
Heath is a Steeler and the perfect example of one. I wouldn't trade him for any other player out there!
Exactly. Physical play makes Steeler football!
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Old 05-31-2012, 07:53 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers: A twist in Heath Miller's tale

Heath Miller's tale gets another big twist
May 31, 2012 12:47 am
http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/...st-638236/?p=0
By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

He has made a Pro Bowl, so it cannot be said that, as he approaches his 30th birthday, Heath Miller can become an overnight sensation.

He has been among the most popular Steelers since they drafted him in 2005, and there was the Pro Bowl season of '09, when he set a team record for tight ends with 76 receptions.

Yet, there always has been a sense around the Steelers that they did not use the 6-foot-5 Miller enough as a receiver, particularly in the shadows of the goal line. That happened even though his 337 receptions are second in franchise history among tight ends to Elbie Nickel, who some argue was more wide receiver than tight end.

And, it might be about to change.

Todd Haley's new offense promises many things, among them is making sure Miller is one of its receiving stars. At his Feb. 9 introductory news conference, Haley called Miller "one of my favorite players."

Coach Mike Tomlin elaborated.

"Haley is excited about what Heath Miller is capable of," Tomlin said. "He's been very clear about that, his excitement to work with Miller. I would imagine that the tight end is going to be a part of our plan."

It likely is the biggest part, in one sense, because the only unrestricted free agent the Steelers have signed is 6-8 tight end Leonard Pope, a veteran of six seasons in Haley's offense in Arizona and Kansas City.

The new offense has emphasized protecting the quarterback, running more effectively and high-percentage passes. They've been working at it for two weeks in practices, and even Miller can see the possibilities for more receptions than he traditionally has seen in six of his seven seasons. His 51 receptions last season were the second most of his career.

"I definitely see opportunities for that to happen. That's not to say there weren't opportunities in the last offense. We are going to be involved a lot."

He has done that, whenever coaches and quarterbacks decided to go his way. Miller has missed four games in his seven seasons. He has not missed catching a football in any game, regular or postseason, since the middle of '08, when an ankle injury forced him out of the first half of a game in Washington, his 52nd consecutive start.

"From my point of view, Heath has always been a big part of the offense," Pope said. "Heath's a great player and a great person to learn from. I'm just happy to be here and playing with that guy."

The two could make an impression as bookends near the goal line and give Ben Roethlisberger those tall targets he has longed to have. The Steelers haven't worked much on red-zone drills this spring, but it would be surprising if Miller is not a big part of them. He has only 31 touchdown receptions, an average of a little more than four a season. In each of the past two seasons, he had two, his career lows.

"It's too early to tell," Miller said of Haley's red-zone plans. "We haven't been through it enough. Right now, we're throwing everything against the wall, putting it all in, and, when the season comes, when game-planning comes, it'll get pared down. That's when we'll see what we have and how we want to approach this."

If, when that happens, they continue to throw everything against the wall, chances are likely to increase that Miller will get the opportunity to catch it.
For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette on the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com and Twitter @EdBouchette.
First Published May 31, 2012 12:00 am
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Old 05-31-2012, 08:02 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers: A twist in Heath Miller's tale

Thanks for posting this here, Mesa. Reduces clutter and gives me the chance to read the original article as well.
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Old 05-31-2012, 08:47 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers: A twist in Heath Miller's tale

Miller has been under utilized for far too long. Hopefully the NFL will finally get to see what a beast we have had all along.

So thankful that Arians is gone.
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Old 05-31-2012, 08:49 AM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers: A twist in Heath Miller's tale

Heath Miller was a major part of both of our Super Bowl campaigns, and to ignore a weapon of his caliber (in favor of higher profile targets) is thumbing your nose at history while sealing your own defeat. Haley should know all too well how effective he was in SBXLIII, and will exploit him to the fullest.
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Old 05-31-2012, 11:28 AM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers: A twist in Heath Miller's tale

Go Heath Go. I wear my Heath Miller jersey proudly. Come on Haley. Use this guy. He has the potential to be the best TE in football because we all know he is a hellacious blocker. Get him some catches and he will be GREAT.
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