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Steelers Heath Miller tears ACL, MCL despite initial prognosis

Miller, likely the team's MVP in the 2012 season, will now likely begin the 2013 season on the PUP list.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers initially diagnosed the injury to tight end Heath Miller as a knee sprain following Pittsburgh's Week 16 loss to Cincinnati.

It's far worse than that.

Miller tore his ACL and MCL, and could have damage to his PCL as well. Tearing all three ligaments typically carries with it a recovery time of nine months to a year.

The Steelers kick off training camp almost exactly seven months from now, and begin the 2013 season almost nine months from now.

They have plenty of experience with preparing starters suffering major knee injuries at the end of the season. Running back Rashard Mendenhall tore his ACL on Jan. 1 last season, and nose tackle Casey Hampton and Max Starks tore ACLs one week after that. Hampton and Starks started in the Steelers' first game this season - a loss at Denver - while Mendenhall didn't play until Week 5.

In a season where injuries defined much of a disappointing campaign, it appears as if the Steelers will enter the 2013 season in a similar spot to where they started. This time, it came to one of its most important players, topping off a difficult loss and setting the stage for what could be a transforming offseason.

The Steelers' will now have to consider whether rookie David Paulson showed enough this year (having played in all 16 games) to compete for a starting position while Miller recovers. Certainly, there's no guarantee Miller will be out to start the year, although it's strongly suggested that will be the case.

It's basically the same story written almost a year to the date about Mendenhall, and the offseason will be spent wondering how the Steelers will approach Miller's injury, both in the draft and free agency.

A perfect kick to the stomach after an already painful year.

Merry Christmas!