A year after injury, Heath Miller making progress
It’s been a full year since Heath Miller had reconstructive knee
surgery. He’s happy with the way things have gone, but the
Pittsburgh Steelers’ tight end is not about to celebrate.
At this time last season, Miller was selected as the Steelers’
MVP by his teammates, the same day he had surgery to repair several
ligaments in the right knee that he injured Dec. 23, 2012, against
Miller missed that final regular-season game and the rehab kept
him out of the opening two games this season. Still, he has been
his usual solid self with 56 catches for 576 yards and one
touchdown in 13 games. In 15 games last season, Miller had 71
catches for 816 yards and eight scores.
”I think I’ve gotten better throughout the season,” Miller
said. ”I felt good going into every game that I played, and I feel
fortunate to have felt that way.”
Miller’s first game was against the Chicago Bears Sept. 22 at
Heinz Field. That might have been a little earlier than some
believed, but not for Miller.
”My mindset was to work as hard as possible and whenever my
knee was good enough to allow me to move forward, then I would be
ready,” Miller said. ”I was hoping to be ready to start the
season, but I wasn’t quite there. But, to come out of this thing
and to miss one game at the end of last season and two games to
start this year, I’m pretty fortunate.”
Steelers backup tight end Matt Spaeth, who was rehabbing a foot
injury until joining the lineup Dec. 8 against Miami, believed that
Miller is a model for any player – rookie or veteran – and labeled
him as a consummate professional.
”I think he’s as good and as reliable as he’s ever been,”
Spaeth said. ”He’s just one of those guys who does what he’s
supposed to do all of the time. So, he does it well, and he does a
good job. I guess he’s one of those guys who, if you’re building a
team, you wish you had a bunch of him.”
Miller had three catches in his opener against the Bears and six
each in the next two games. After several nondescript games, which
included his only touchdown this season, Miller made eight catches
for 67 yards in a home win against the Detroit Lions.
”Like I’ve said, on Sundays, I always felt good,” Miller said.
”But the process I had to adjust to was just getting to
Miller generally took Wednesdays as a maintenance day during the
season, staying off the practice field but working in the weight
room and on a treadmill. This was a bit of an adjustment for
Miller, who usually gets just about every practice rep, but he made
”You have to try to stay in shape, even if you’re not taking
every rep,” Miller said. ”I’m used to taking most of the reps and
my body feeling a certain way heading into a game. I don’t know if
that’s mental or physical, but you have to adjust.”
Miller is entering the final season of the six-year, $35.3
million contract he signed in 2009. He is to make $6.02 million in
2014 and become a free agent in 2015.
Notes: LB Terence Garvin (knee) is out. … OLB Jason Worilds
(abdomen) and WR Emmanuel Sanders (knee) are questionable. Sanders
said it would be a game-time decision. … OG David DeCastro
(back), OLB Jarvis Jones (illness), DE Brett Keisel (foot), TE
Heath Miller (not injury related), SS Troy Polamalu (not injury
related) and WR Markus Wheaton (finger) are all probable.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org