Todd Haley Credits Ladarius Green’s Sharpness To Staying Engaged

Even after a tough loss on Sunday, it seems that the Pittsburgh Steelers are getting some positive momentum heading into their bye week, and that is largely tied to an improving injury situation. The team is expecting many of its nine players, both on and off the roster, who missed Sunday’s game to get back on the other side of the bye week.

Other than the prospect of getting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back after missing one game with a meniscus injury, the headliner has to be the potential Steelers debut of free agent tight end Ladarius Green, who practiced for the first time ever with the team on Tuesday, and has not gotten a couple of solid practice sessions in.

What has impressed his offensive coordinator most, however, has been the fairly seamless integration process that he has seen from Green in just two days of practice, and he credits that a lot to the fifth-year tight end’s ability to stay engaged despite not being able to take reps until now.

I’ve seen him two days now that he’s been on the field”, Todd Haley said after practice yesterday, and “mentally, he was extremely sharp and I think that’s a testament to his staying in it, working even though he wasn’t out there with us, he was on the side. That’s a lot easier to talk about than do”.

All throughout the offseason process, while his teammates and coaches have bemoaned his inability to get out on the practice field, they have all universally credited him with staying engaged in the system, and Roethlisberger talked multiple times about Green’s participation with him and his asking the right questions that show that he is on the same page.

“He came out and from a mental standpoint was very, very good”, Haley said. But he pointed out that from a “physical standpoint, we’re in shorts”, and talked about seeing what he looks like next week when the Steelers put pads back on for the first time. “But for the first two days, I thought it was very positive”.

And, according to quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner, it was an important two days, as he was able to get in some passes from Roethlisberger, who participated in some individual drills in preparation for ramping up his participation level on the other side of the bye.

You have to build that continuity back up and that togetherness”, he said. “That repetition of throws and catches and route depth, timing. Any rep we can get, and we stole a couple today and yesterday, will be good for both of them”.

Of course, the chemistry between Roethlisberger and Green has been the biggest question mark about the free agent’s first foray onto the field, given the fact that they haven’t been able to work together at all. It will be a feeling out process, no doubt, whenever he gets to the field, but at the very least, it has already—and finally—begun to take shape.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • David

    All good news, but not surprising given Green’s history. I’ve seen several people say things like “Green wasn’t all that — look at what Hunter Henry is doing as a *rookie* this year, in the same situation as Gates’s backup.” Leaving aside Gates’s steep decline since last year, if you look at the stat lines and the film it’s pretty clear that, before the ankle injury torpedoed him last season, Green was having a very solid receiving season — on pace for about 600ish receiving yards and 6-7ish touchdowns (much of it as his team’s no. 2 TE). And while he was healthy Green *looked* good. He always had the speed and high-point ability to win redzone battles, and that showed up a few times last year (4 TDs, 2 2-PT conversions). But he’d also shown significant development between the 20s: he’d learned, like Gates, how to “sit down” in the soft spots of zone coverage (but also with the speed to add chunks of yards after the catch). That’s the result of study, and developing sound football instincts — not just trying to get by with athleticism.

    Obviously an ankle is an important thing, so I hope the team docs and trainers have done their work thoroughly here. But if Green’s even at 90% of his former athleticism, he’ll be a great asset to the Steelers.

  • srdan

    The chemistry I envisioned when we signed him will take time to develop. That I know of he hasn’t caught a meaningful ball from ben. To me the tight end QB relationship takes time to grow, it’s not just something people do right away. Good news is they have some good match ups coming up. And practice vs our defense is always a good match up. Ouch.

  • will

    How is his blocking when it is called for?

  • StrengthOfVictory

    If I’m the Steelers, I’m throwing to Green early and often against the Ravens. Why not? No film on him since he came to Pittsburgh. They’re not sure what to expect from him offensively, so use that to your advantage. Make Baltimore prove they can stop him, and then watch Brown and Bell get theirs.

  • walter

    Its great to hear something positive about this guy.

  • connfyoozed .

    From what I remember reading, it’s adequate. He’s willing to block and he’s OK at it, it’s just not his strongest suit. It’s gotten better during his career, as he hadn’t done much blocking in college and didn’t really know how when he got to the pros (he’s also bulked up and gotten stronger since turning pro, which has helped).

  • ATL96STEELER

    BAL game plans so well vs the Steelers this would make a lot of sense…give him half dz targets in the 1st half and make them adjust to him.

  • connfyoozed .

    The Steelers have had success early on with 3 tight end formations. Imagine putting someone as talented as Green into that mix. What could be interesting is to see what roster move they make to activate Green. I am by no means convinced that Grimble is going to be the one dropped from the roster. With as much as they have been using all 3 tight ends thus far, keeping all 4 of them plus Nix on the 53 man roster is not at all out of the question.

  • Douglas Andrews

    It’s got to be an upgrade of JJames. We just need an adequate blocker at TE and someone who won’t get the Franchise QB killed. We all knew replacing Heath wouldn’t be an easy task.

  • Steve Johnson

    Yeah, Yada Yada Yada; can he stay healthy? Can he stay on the field?

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Can’t wait to see him on the field! Hope he ends up being the key piece in this offense!

  • Steelerfan4lifeinAZ

    A new wrinkle to the offense is good. A tight end that is 6’6 and runs a 4.4 forty-time who can run seam routes like Gronk will help occupy the safety and leave one on one coverage on Brown or Coates. There will be no DB or LB that will want to jam him coming off the line in fear of getting beat. With Bell coming out of the backfield in most passing situations, now you have created a whole new game plan. Haley should be able to add a few good plays in for LG. We need to avg 30 plus points a game and this should definately help us while the defense gets their Sh$%^ together

  • Guest12

    I have a feeling it will be David Johnson or Nix, most likely Nix because he has been a little banged up throughout the year so hasn’t seen the field as much as David Johnson has. I don’t see them getting rid of Xavier mainly for depth

  • connfyoozed .

    I tend to think they all stick, and the player dropped is from a different position. The 2 guys who immediately come to mind are Steven Johnson and Cobi Hamilton. I feel like Hamilton makes it to the practice squad, despite his outstanding play so far. Johnson would likely still be available as a free agent if they want to bring him back (Johnson is not PS eligible).

  • John Mazza

    Johnson has been good on SP. but they could just cut him and sign him later. i dont think anyone will sign him. Hamilton has put some decent stuff on tape so who knows. we value our players more than other teams do of course

  • John Mazza

    I get they arent the same guy but hes a little bigger little strong and little faster than Kelvin Benjamin. not bad for someone coming from the end of the line. if he can run a route and catch hes uncoverable

  • Matthew Marczi

    I think Fort is also an option (Matakevich played on defense over him, and has practice squad eligibility), but you can also put me in the camp of hoping they keep all four guys, although Green would largely make Grimble redundant. I still can’t ignore the fact, however, that Grimble has played 32 snaps this season as the lone tight end.

  • Steelerfan4lifeinAZ

    The value of a solid TE who is big and fast is something the Steelers really need at this point of the season. With Brown on the outside, Bell coming out of the backfield and Coates stretching the field there will be holes open in the middle of the field and running a 4.4 and 6’6 makes him a big target to Big Ben. No LB or slot corner will be able to handle him once he gets in open field down the middle.

  • Teresa A

    Todd….get this……the players see through your inane comments and clichés