Like many of you, I can’t wait until tight end Heath Miller finally returns to the lineup, but I don’t think he will help in the running game as much as many people would have you believe.
Sure, Miller’s run blocking will be better than that of David Paulson, so that’s a plus in itself, but just how much better?
Miller didn’t have a great year in the run blocking department prior to injuring his knee in the Week 16 game against last season the Cincinnati Bengals, and I pointed that out several times throughout the year. In fact, Pro Football Focus ranked him 35th overall in run blocking out of 40 tight ends that played 500 or more snaps last season.
During the offseason, The Steelers purposefully brought back tight end Matt Spaeth; the top rated blocking tight end in the league last year, with the hopes that Miller wouldn’t have to do as much dirty work in 2013, but unfortunately, he will be sidelined at least six more games with a Lisfranc injury. He’s the one the Steelers sorely miss in the running game right now, not Miller.
During his Tuesday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin said they are not expecting Miller to step out of a phone booth with a cape on when he returns to action. While he didn’t say it, one would think it might even take a few games until he is ready to see a full game’s worth of snaps as well.
Superman Miller will be 31 in October and while there’s no reason to think that he can’t pick up where he left off last year as a receiver, there’s also no reason to think that he won’t also pick up where he left off as a blocker.
Make no mistake, it will be great to see Miller come busting out of that phone booth anytime now, but don’t get your hopes up that he will block like he’s inside of one, at least not initially.