The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

September 20, 2013

Miller anxious for return

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger called him the best tight end in the game, a sentiment echoed throughout the locker room.

However, Heath Miller cautions it will take some time before he resembles the player who led the Steelers in receptions in 2012 before tearing ligaments in his right knee in a loss to Cincinnati in December.

The three-time Pro Bowler practiced for the third straight day as a full-time participant and is expected to play when the Steelers (0-2) play host to the Chicago Bears (2-0) Sunday night. While the ever cautious Miller remained vague on whether he’s ready to go, he allowed he’s “a work in progress.”

“Whenever I’m able to play, I think it’s unrealistic to think I’m going to come back in midseason form,” Miller said. “I haven’t played football since last December, so I’ve been out for a while. With the rules now, you have one day of pads per week.

“That’s not training camp, by any means.”

Miller led the Steelers with 71 catches and eight touchdowns before the knee injury in the second-to-last regular-season game last year. The Steelers haven’t looked the same through a winless preseason and two feeble losses to Tennessee and Cincinnati. Having Miller’s familiar No. 83 out there will certainly produce a level of comfort, though coach Mike Tomlin insists “we are not expecting Heath to step out of a phone booth with a cape on.”

Still, Miller is encouraged about the possibility of helping the Steelers avoid their first 0-3 start since 1986. The knee has responded well to the increased workload and barring any last-second setback he will run out of the tunnel on Sunday.

“So, we’ll see how I feel and base it on the week’s work,” Miller said. “I’m excited. Obviously, it’s been a long time, sitting and watching.”

Even if it hasn’t been pleasant. Pittsburgh has managed just two touchdowns in two games, and the production from the tight end position has been largely nonexistent. Second-year player David Paulson broke loose for a long gain Monday against the Bengals but fumbled inside the Cincinnati 20 to blunt some early momentum.

“I’m getting close, and I know it’s sooner, rather than later,” Miller said.

Miller isn’t the only offensive weapon nearing a return.

Rookie running back Le’Veon Bell, who hasn’t played since spraining his right foot in a preseason game against Washington on Aug. 19, practiced for the second straight day. While Bell is likely still at least a week away, he’s pleased with his progress.

“I really can’t complain about my work out there,” Bell said. “I really exceeded what I thought I was going to do out there today. Once I got going and got loose, I was able to perform the way I wanted to.”

After speaking to Tomlin, Bell noted he’s basically day-to-day and needs to get back into game shape.

Notes: Bell was listed as questionable on the team’s official injury list. Cornerback Cortez Allen (ankle) is out for his second straight game, while Miller, cornerback Curtis Brown (illness), outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (heel), defensive end Brett Keisel (calf) and nose tackle Steve McLendon (hamstring) are probable. ... Despite the 2-0 record, the Bears have only scored four more points than they have allowed (55-51).

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • Shelley and McElligot Series serves as reunion for former Chiefs personnel

    Not so long ago, Bob McElligott, like most Western Pennsylvania hockey fans, would savor a long Pittsburgh Penguins playoff run.
    The Somerset native followed the Pens’ Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1991 and 1992.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Malkin nearing return

    The Columbus Blue Jackets are the closest NHL team to the Pittsburgh Penguins, at least geographically. The two franchises are separated by 185 miles of highway.

    April 15, 2014

  • Reds swing way past Pirates

    Mike Leake doubled and hit a two-run homer Tuesday night, ending Gerrit Cole's winning streak and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that completed two days full of homers and delays.
    First, the NL Central rivals completed a game that was suspended in the sixth inning because of rain the previous night.

    April 15, 2014

  • Pitt ends its spring practices

    No tailgating.
    No trip to a local high school.

    April 15, 2014

  • Pirates Game 1 0415 Pirates edge out Reds in suspended game

    After all those home runs and an overnight delay, it was settled by a single.
    Andrew McCutchen doubled and came around on Russell Martin’s single in the seventh inning on Tuesday, giving the Pittsburgh Pirates an 8-7 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the completion of a game that spanned two days and 10 home runs.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • track_B1 WestPAC relays go to Windber boys, Berlin girls

    Rain showers and dropping temperatures put a damper on Monday’s WestPAC Relays at Berlin Brothersvalley High School.
    For the Berlin girls and the boys from Windber, however, discomfort was not much of a factor.
    The Mountaineers won their third straight relay title while the Ramblers reclaimed the title from defending champ Shade.

    April 14, 2014 2 Photos

  • Penguins 0414 Pressure on Penguins to capture Cup

    The statistics are gaudy.
    And if the Pittsburgh Penguins can’t find a way to extend their season into the final days of spring, ultimately forgettable.
    The same team that led the NHL in man games lost due to injury (more than 500) also earned 109 points, led the Metropolitan Division from mid-October on and received another peerless effort from star Sidney Crosby, who topped the league with 104 points and is a near lock for the second MVP award of his career.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local High School Baseball and Softball Briefs 4-15-14

    April 14, 2014

  • Local Sports Briefs 4-15-14

    April 14, 2014

  • mccort0413 color Bishop McCort falls to Bethel Park at PNC Park

    April 14, 2014 2 Photos