Heath Miller could make his first start in Week 2 vs. Bengals

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

It'd be a welcome addition to a lineup ravaged by subtraction after Week 1. However, it begs the question of whether he would play because he's ready, or because they need him.

The Steelers tight end position has been ravaged by injuries this season. Heath Miller missed all of training camp and the preseason recovering from an ACL tear in December. Matt Spaeth went down with a foot sprain and is on the IR-recall list. Even Kelvin Beachum, basically an emergency fill-in at tight end, had to be moved out of that spot and to the center position because of an injury to Maurkice Pouncey.

The good news is the Steelers may have Miller back for their AFC North showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2.

CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora noted (as transcribed by CBS Pittsburgh):

"Miller has impressed the Steelers with his recovery as well, being activated from the PUP list only recently, and a return for Week 2 is likely in his case," he writes. "Miller was a vital cog in coordinator Todd Haley’s offense a year ago, the team is thin at tight end and faces a critical game against the Bengals in the second week."

While all of that may have some truth to it, it's fair to wonder whether Miller returning in Week 2 is as much a product of a deplorable performance in the team's overall pass protection in their Week 1 loss to Tennessee. Tight ends David Paulson and David Johnson were unable to help on the edge, and the Steelers surrendered constant pressure, leading to one of their worst offensive outputs in recent memory.

Miller suffered the knee injury that has kept him out of action until now in Week 16 against the Bengals. The Steelers lost the game 13-10, ending their playoff chances. Cincinnati claimed a wild card spot in the AFC Playoffs, and lost to Houston in the first round.

If Miller is at or near 100 percent, then it's a fantastic time to get him on the field. If he's not, and the Steelers are rushing him back onto the field, it speaks to the dire situation the team has at the position.

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