Steelers TE Miller quietly leads by example
The essence of Heath Miller could be seen in an unremarkable scene Wednesday in the Steelers' locker room.
Miller had been trying to downplay something receiver Hines Ward said about his work ethic, though the veteran tight end conceded he usually arrives at Steelers headquarters at 6:30 a.m.
A couple of minutes later, Miller called a reporter back over. By the time he got to the weight room that morning, Miller said, outside linebacker James Harrison already was drenched in sweat.
It was Miller's way of deflecting attention, and he went out of his way to do it.
Miller may be averse to calling attention to himself, but the Steelers know better when it comes to one of the best tight ends in franchise history.
His teammates voted him an offensive co-captain in 2010 because of how hard, if quietly, he works. And Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has long said Miller's value is at least a fly pattern beyond the statistics he posts.
When told Miller ranks 13th among tight ends in a poll of the NFL's top 200 players by Scouts Inc., Arians chuckled.
"I think he's the best pure tight end in the league," Arians said. "Most of those guys are not tight ends; they're wide receivers. They don't block anybody. They can't block anybody."
The 6-foot-5, 256-pound Miller is a proven blocker, and he has caught enough passes to rank second in receiving yards (3,233) for a tight end in franchise history.
Miller's production dipped last season after he caught a career-high 76 passes in 2009 and made the Pro Bowl. The absence of starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the first four games didn't help. And Miller missed two games near the end of the season after getting knocked out of the Ravens game with a concussion.
Miller may find it difficult to improve significantly on the 42 receptions he made last season even if he plays every game. The Steelers have what Arians calls the best receiving corps since he joined the team in 2004.
He said he will use some five wide receiver sets — and admitted that it could be a delicate balance keeping everybody happy.
"That's the key with our offense now: You cannot get selfish," Arians said "As long as everybody stays with that, and contracts don't get in the way, we could be pretty solid. The minute selfishness creeps in, it can tear you down real quick."
Arians doesn't have to worry about that when it comes to Miller, who never badgers Roethlisberger about being open or getting him the ball.
"I understand how hard Ben's job is as a quarterback," Miller said. "If Ben asks me if I was open and I was, I'll tell him. If he asks me if I was covered and I was covered, I'm going to tell him I was covered. He's looking for honest feedback, and I think if everyone gives him that, it makes his job a little bit easier."
That is quintessential Miller.
"Not a showboat, just straps his helmet and goes about his business," Ward said. "That's what you love about him. I thought I come in early, but he's already here in the shower by the time I get here. He's probably one of the first ones in the building and the last ones to leave."
That work ethic is one why Miller has missed just four games in six seasons. Naturally, he shrugs off all that he puts into football away from the field.
"I've come to realize what I need to have to continue doing to be effective as a player, not only at the (beginning) of the season but at the end of the season," Miller said. "I get my work in, and I know that's going to pay off week 13 or 14 or 15."
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 nose tackle McCullers finds performance, fitness go hand in hand
- Steelers’ defense unfazed by noise, believes in potential
- Healthy defensive back Mitchell eager for 2nd season with Steelers
- Rossi: Steelers’ tarnished Bell rings true
- Steelers notebook: Blake gets outside shot in nickel
- Tomlin gives suggestion Steelers won’t be shy about going for 2
- NFL notebook: Broncos left tackle Clady tears ACL, likely out for season
- Steelers’ Brown: Attendance ‘never a doubt’ for offseason workouts
- Steelers claim QB-turned-WR Gardner
- Former Steelers kicker Reed doesn’t like new NFL PAT rule
- Steelers’ Heyward looking to stay for long haul