There is perhaps no one as beloved by fans as the Steelers 2012 team MVP Heath Miller, save maybe high flying safety Troy Polamalu. Miller has been a vital cog in the Steelers offense since being drafted in 2005, and the chemistry he has developed with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is usually evident for all to see on Sundays.
Bashful, quietly confident and ever reliable, it's all part of Miller's charm.
In 2012, Miller set career highs in receiving yards (816) and touchdowns (8) on his way to the aforementioned team MVP, and without a doubt established himself as the best all-round tight end in the NFL. A competent blocker in-line and out in space, whilst doubling as a reliable intermediate and short range security blanket for Roethlisberger, Miller can do it all.
Steelers OTAs: Football in Shorts
Steelers OTAs 2014
However, after tearing his ACL and MCL in the second last game of the 2012 season, Miller missed the first two games of the 2013 season. Upon his return, he was never really the same player he was in 2012. Although there was visible improvement over the course of the season, Miller finished with only 600 yards and one touchdown for the season and it was apparent he was still adjusting and recovering from his injury.
In many ways this bodes well for the Steelers in 2014, the well documented offensive momentum achieved in the last 8 games of 2013 happened without a full strength Heath Miller. As he (hopefully) recaptures the form that earned him a pro bowl berth in 2012, the Steelers offense will only get better.
Per ESPN's Scott Brown, Miller acknowledged that he wasn't at his best in 2013, however he fully expects to be fighting fit and back to his old lovable self in 2014.
"Last year was about trying to find a new normal for myself and I’m a creature of habit, so that wasn’t easy for me...I was constantly trying to find the right balance of how much to work, how much to take off, what type of rehab is good, what type of rehab is too much..."
I should be able to put more preparation in, should be able to work like I’m used to working... I’m fully confident by the time the season rolls around I’m going to be feeling much better than the start of last year just from a confidence perspective...
I expect to be better than last year".
Miller attended all three OTAs this week, and it seems his injury is almost, if not completely behind him. If nothing else, Steelers fans can take confidence from Miller's confidence.
It seems we can expect 2014 Heath to be alot more 2012 than 2013, which means good news for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense, and bad news for their opponents.