Miller emerges as Steelers' quiet force
Las Vegas offers, among many things, the chance to make just about any sports-related bet, no matter how outrageous it seems.
One thing Vegas bookmakers will never set odds for, simply because they may not exist: Heath Miller breaking into a celebration jig after scoring a touchdown.
"You have a better chance of the sun dying out before seeing Heath do an end zone dance," Steelers left tackle Max Starks said.
Miller has quietly established himself as a premier tight end. And more than a few people in the Steelers' locker room will tell you that there is not a more complete tight end on the planet than Earl Heath Miller.
The last guy who would say that, of course, is Miller himself.
"These guys may be a little biased," Miller recently said of his teammates, "but I don't really play to be labeled as the best tight end in the league. I have areas that I can improve on, and I'm trying to be the best end I can be."
That approach has made Miller one of the most respected Steelers among his teammates. They honored him for it Monday when they elected him as an offensive co-captain, along with wide receiver Hines Ward.
Given his understated nature, Miller's teammates seemed more excited about his captaincy than he did.
That is not to say Miller does not appreciate or cherish one of the ultimate compliments a player can receive from his colleagues. But he is not any more prone to emotion, on or off the field, than he is to flubbed catches or mental mistakes.
Miller is, in fact, so even-keeled that it would be hard to tell if he had just split the atom and brokered Middle East peace.
Or if he had just lost his starting job and been told he had to sing the national anthem while standing on his head at a Steelers' home game.
"On and off the field, he's just the same guy 24/7," Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith said. "He's like a robot almost."
"You have to check his pulse at times to make sure he is still breathing because you think he's a machine," Starks said.
One person who can probably verify this is Miller's wife, Katie.
"She gives my trouble when she sees me fist-pump or something like that," Miller said. "She says, 'Oh, I see you got a little excited out there' because she knows I never really show that much emotion."
Miller shows plenty of other stuff when he is on the field.
The 6-foot-5, 256-pounder has the speed and athleticism to make him a primary target in the passing game. The workmanlike Miller also has the size and strength to block arguably as well as anyone at his position.
"He doesn't drop any balls, he can run like a deer, and he blocks better than any of those other receiving tight ends," Smith said.
Miller has increased his receptions total every year except for one since the Steelers took him late in the first round of the 2005 draft. And the six-year veteran could play an even more prominent role in the passing game this season.
The offseason trade of Santonio Holmes leaves the Steelers with some question marks at wide receiver.
There are none regarding Miller, who gives the Steelers a top receiving threat to work the middle of the field.
As accomplished at football as he is, some of his teammates said Miller could be downright deadly in a different game.
"If you were to play poker with Heath, you would lose every time," Starks said. "You wouldn't know if he is bluffing. He has the best poker face I have ever seen on a human being."
"He definitely should think about (playing poker) after his career," inside linebacker James Farrior said.
Not that he should be thinking about post-football plans anytime soon. Miller doesn't turn 28 until late October, and he only seems to be getting better with age.
"You wish you had 50 guys like him," Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. "You'd have no problems as a coach."Additional Information:
Tight end Heath Miller has been an impact player since joining the Steelers in 2005. The 30th overall pick of the 2005 draft came into his own last season when he established career highs in catches and receiving yards and was selected to his first Pro Bowl. Here is a look at Miller's career:
2005 : 16 games, 39 receptions, 459 yards, 11.8 avg, 50-yard long, 6 TDs
2006 : 16 games, 34 receptions, 393 yards, 11.6 avg, 87-yard long, 5 TDs
2007 : 16 games, 47 receptions, 566 yards, 12.0 avg, 29-yard long, 7 TDs
2008 : 14 games, 48 receptions, 514 yards, 10.7 avg, 22-yard long, 3 TDs
2009 : 16 games, 76 receptions, 789 yards, 10.4 avg, 41-yard long, 6 TDs
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitt makes key defensive plays to hold off Kent State, 85-76
- Central Catholic wins 5th WPIAL football title
- Penguins’ Johnston agrees with Dubinsky suspension
- Penn State’s men’s basketball team’s late rally foils Bucknell
- Steelers notebook: Brown downplays possible matchup against Seahawks’ Sherman
- Slippery Rock halts late rally, advances to D-II quarterfinals
- Pot doctors in medical marijuana states push boundaries with marketing
- Clairton captures 12th WPIAL football championship
- Downtown holiday parade festive, but turnout low
- NHL notebook: Canadiens’ Price reportedly will be sidelined 1 month with knee injury
- Steelers remain cautious of Seattle QB Wilson on ground, through air