While Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller was able to play in 14 games last season after tearing multiple ligaments his right knee at the end of the 2012 season, he wasn’t able to fully participate in any of the offseason or training camp practices. Now that he’s a nearly a full year and a half removed from his original injury date, the 10-year veteran is more than happy to take part in this year’s OTA practices.
“Last year was the first year I haven’t been able to prepare for a season with these (May-June) practices, and they’re certainly beneficial — to me, anyway — to be out here to work on your technique,” Miller recently told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
“It’s hard to simulate football activity without doing football.”
Despite missing the first two games of the 2013 season while finishing up his rehab, Miller still managed to catch 58 passes for 593 yards. In addition, his 916 offensive snaps played were the fifth-most on the offensive side of the ball. That’s nothing to sneeze at when you consider that he wasn’t even a full year removed from his injury until late December.
If there was one statistic where Miller really suffered the most last season, it was in the touchdown column as his lone score, a three-yard shovel pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the Week 7 win over the Baltimore Ravens, was a new season-low for him. One would think that he’ll easily surpass that number in 2014.
While Miller might not have fully trusted his surgically repaired knee for most of the 2013 season, there certainly wasn’t anything wrong with his hands as his 73.4% completion rate of balls thrown his direction was his highest since the 2009 season.
Miller heads into the 2014 season having caught at least one pass in the last 88 games that he’s suited up for, including the playoffs. He is also just two touchdowns away from tying Buddy Dial (42) for the fourth most receiving touchdowns in team history.
While he may have been slowed a little last year, there’s no reason to think that Miller can’t catch another 70 balls in 2014. After all, he was only 12 catches shy of that number last season even though he missed the first two games.