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Heath Miller Playing His Way Back Into Blocking Form


By Matthew Marczi

The return of tight end Heath Miller to the lineup has been a big boost for the Pittsburgh Steelers, not only in terms of his ability to contribute to the receiving game, but, perhaps especially, in terms of what he brings as a blocker, in comparison to what they were previously working with.

With Miller gone, and David Johnson still working through a cleanup procedure on the eve of training camp on his surgically repaired knee, the Steelers were primarily leaning on the slender David Paulson for their blocking needs at tight end. Suffice it to say that he did not really get the job done. No offense to the young Mr. Paulson, but I don’t suspect you have ever seen him throw a block like this.

heath1

On this play, Miller does not simply box out the cornerback on a quick out to Markus Wheaton to secure a first down. On this play, he buries the cornerback into the ground and embarrasses him enough to force him to retaliate for the sake of his own dignity, to which Miller responds with a classic shake of the head.

Miller also played a key role on both of Le’Veon Bell’s touchdown runs, the first one for sealing the edge of the defense once he realizes that Bell bounced the run outside.

bell1

One of my favorite traits about Miller, however, is his work ethic, in that he treats every snap the same regardless of its significance. Take, for example, this late second-quarter carry in which the Steelers were simply running out the clock. He gets a perfect seal on Jared Allen on the play to open up a hole for one of Bell’s biggest plays of the night.

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Then there was Bell’s second touchdown in which he comes off a double team on Allen when he sees Chad Greenway coming through the gap, who likely would have made the tackle had Miller not picked him up.

bell4

Instead, it’s a two-touchdown night for the rookie’s debut. Rather than taking the chance of David DeCastro not pulling fast enough to block Greenway, Miller takes him, leaving DeCastro to help Johnson with Allen as Bell barrels his way over the safety for the score.

Yes, it is a good thing for the Steelers to have Heath Miller back, and he is likely still playing his way back into football shape. The week off should give his knee time to rebound from the exertion as well, and perhaps he will be able to work his way into the passing game more after the bye.

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About Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Dr. Doom

    That first block was just nasty.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    Maybe try Heath at LT???

  • 20Stoney

    I think Will Johnson might have held a little on that second td.

  • Dr. Doom

    Don’t laugh too hard, he is the emergency tackle.

  • Johnny Loose

    All I gotta say is HEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAATTTHHHHHHH

  • Kevin Gobleck

    and QB

  • Xclewsive

    and NT

  • chris ward

    Heath does a great job blocking in the screen game.

  • Douglas Andrews

    I’m glad Heath is back looks like he’s 100%.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    hmm he is a very versatile player i guess

  • Madi

    “Forces him to retaliate for the sake of his own dignity…”

    This happens at least once a game to some guy Heath blocked. Many times it’s a defensive end. He pancakes on a regular basis. It’s a good thing he’s so cool and calm, because guys take shots at him after the play pretty often.

    I think everyone knows him well enough to know he’s not dirty (just a badass) but they still get frustrated getting their asses handed to them.

    It’s things like this that make watching a Steelers game fun, even when we’re 0-4. Thank goodness for Heath and Troy.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    I can’t help but think that Heath has been screwed for quite a few seasons now. He can be every bit as good (utilized) as say a Jason Witten in the pass game. Offensive line woes (for years) relegated him to staying in and having to pass block when the better contribution would be him running routes. I for one am glad he’s healthy and playing again as I think he is the MVP of this offense.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    He makes it looks so damn easy.

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