Team-first Miller doesn't sweat personal statistics
Ben Roethlisberger shared an anecdote this week to illustrate tight end Heath Miller's team-first mentality.
"I'll come off to the sideline and ask him if he was open on a play, and he will tell me 'No,' Roethlisberger said. "I'll go look at it on film, and he was wide open."
Miller is concerned with individual accolades as much as he worries what is served at the Steelers' South Side cafeteria (Thursday lunch was steak salad, sauteed mushrooms and onion rings).
One year after a Pro Bowl season, he is lumbering near career-low totals in every receiving category.
And he couldn't care less.
"The bottom line is winning," Miller said. "It's no fun catching a lot of passes when you are losing a lot of games."
That attitude is why Miller was voted a team captain for the first time this season. The sixth-year pro has 38 receptions for 457 yards and one touchdown; he is on pace to have his lowest totals since 2006 in all three categories.
Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said Miller, who missed two games in December with a concussion, remains a Pro Bowl-caliber tight end.
"(The Pro Bowl) is what numbers you put up," Arians said. "It has nothing to do with playing the position better than everybody else in the league."
Miller returned from his concussion to catch five passes for a season-high 73 yards against Carolina last week, but still, based solely on statistics, he is ranked somewhere between Daniel Fells of the Rams and Joel Dreessen of the Texans among tight ends this season.
"It's just the way it shakes out," Miller said. "Offensively, we've got enough guys that we can take what the defense gives us."
Actually, Miller prefers it when he's not catching a lot of passes. Last year, he had 76 receptions for 789 yards and six touchdowns as the 9-7 Steelers were playing catch-up. This year, they are running the ball — with the 6-foot-5, 256-pound Miller blocking — to protect leads.
"We're not throwing it like we were," Arians said. "But he's probably playing as good or better than he ever has."
Roethlisberger has long regarded the former first-round pick as the best all-around tight end in the league.
"I feel just as comfortable with him blocking as I do with any of my lineman," he said, "and just as comfortable with him catching as I do with any of my receivers."
Miller remains a reliable target. He has caught one touchdown in each of the Steelers' past three post-seasons.
He can take another step forward against the Browns on Sunday. In their first meeting with the Browns, Miller had his lone touchdown - a 14-yarder from Roethlisberger in the fourth quarter - and his longest reception of the season, a 36-yarder.
If Miller says he's not open Sunday, Roethlisberger will have to take his word for it.
"I'm never going to be a guy who comes back to the huddle and says I was open, when I had two guys on me or I wasn't open," Miller said. "I try to be honest with (Ben), and I think he will trust me and appreciate that."Additional Information:
Down, not out
Heath Miller's numbers are down across the board this season:
2010 : 38 receptions, 457 yards, 1 touchdown
2009 : 76 receptions, 789 yards, 6 touchdowns
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.
- Steelers are in familiar territory going into training camp in Latrobe
- Polamalu enters training camp as Steelers’ longest tenured player
- Timmons feels pressure to transform Steelers back into contender
- Steelers defensive back Thomas isn’t conceding starting position yet
- Versatile linebacker Moats getting up to speed with Steelers
- Despite fulfilling promise to mother, Steelers’ Tomlin not yet satisfied
- In open AFC North, it’s anyone’s game