The Pittsburgh Steelers selected nine players in the 2013 NFL draft and signed 15 more as undrafted free agents immediately after it concluded, and of those 24 total players, not a one of them plays tight end.
Judging by the Steelers decision to not add to the position group over the course of the weekend, one can easily speculate that this bodes well for veteran tight end Heath Miller, who pulled off the torn ligament trifecta late last season in the game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Many had speculated that the Steelers would add a tight end at some point during the draft and some of that speculation even included the selection of Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert in the first round. The Steelers, as you can obviously see, thought otherwise on both accounts.
As I pointed out in a previous post, it is not out of the question that Miller could possibly be ready to play come Week 1 of the 2013 season, but with him currently being only four months removed right now from surgery, that is far from a lock at this point.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was a guest on 93.7 The Fan less than two weeks ago and was asked if he had seen his tight end recently, and more importantly, does he expect him to make a full recovery.
“I do,” said Roethlisberger. “I saw Heath this week. I was walking in the facility and I was walking down the hallway, and he was walking towards me, and I forgot that he had surgery. Literally, you see him and I forgot. After talking for a while I said, \’Oh yeah, how you doing? I forgot to even check on how you\’re doing.\’ I don\’t want to jinx it, but if anybody can come back, it\’s Heath Miller, because he just works so hard at his body, his focus, his determination and this is just going to push him even more.
“My biggest thing, and I told Heath this, \’Don\’t push it too much.\’ I know that sounds crazy, and people out there probably don\’t want to hear that, but really, \’You don\’t have to come back at training camp if you\’re not 100 percent ready to go. We don\’t need you for the preseason games. Come back when you\’re ready to come back and you\’re 100 percent, because we need you, because you\’re a good player.\'”
Despite the observations that Dr. Roethlisberger made, he\’s right about Miller. If anyone can be ready by the start of the season after such a devastating injury, it\’s him.
General manager Kevin Colbert offered no real updates on Miller during his pre draft press conference and that in itself is not too surprising as he likely didn\’t want to tip his draft hand. Colbert did, however, say that he thought the team was fine at the position after signing back tight ends Matt Spaeth and David Johnson during the offseason and referred to those signings as “insulating” the position.
The Steelers didn\’t totally ignore the tight end position completely, even before signing Spaeth and Johnson, as they also signed tights ends Jamie McCoy and Zack Pianalto to futures contracts not long after last season ended. In addition to that, they have invited Youngstown State tight end Will Davis in for a tryout next weekend at the rookie camp.
As we sit here right now, everybody expecting Miller to start training camp off on the Active PUP list. Immediately after the team reports to Latrobe we should have a better idea if Miller has a chance to be ready for Week 1. At worst, he will start the season on the Reserve PUP list and be eligible to return after the first six weeks.
Me? I bet he starts the season on the active 53 man roster and is ready to play by Week 3 at the latest.