PITTSBURGH -- Is tight end Heath Miller the Pittsburgh Steelers secret weapon?
While the club's Big Three -- quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wideout Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell -- have garnered all the accolades this season and rightfully so for their offensive production, Miller has quietly had another superb campaign.
"I've told you guys for years that Heath is the best tight end in the game,'' Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "He has great hands. He can run after the catch. He's great in the red zone, and he's a terrific blocker. He's the best all-around tight end in the game. There's no question in my mind.
Roethlisberger's accolades aside, Miller has gone through a solid 10-year NFL career. He has 532 catches for more than 6,000 yards and 43 touchdowns. His best year was 2009 when he tallied 76 catches for 789 yards and six scores. He also had 71 catches for 816 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012 before a knee injury cut that season one game short.
Miller came back with 58 catches and just one touchdown last year, despite missing the opening two games while battling back from knee surgery just nine months earlier, but he bounced back with 66 catches for 761 yards and three touchdowns this year. The scoring total was low only due to the emergence of Brown and rookie Martavis Bryant in the passing game and Bell's running.
"I had an all right year,'' Miller said. "I made some plays, missed a few, too, but it was all right. I'm just glad I was able to contribute. But when you have Ben and all the offensive weapons that we have, I'm happy for the opportunities.''
That's about as much as the unassuming Miller would provide about himself. His teammates, however, were far more effusive in praising him.
"There's no question about it,'' fellow tight end Matt Spaeth said. "Heath definitely is an all-time great. He has great hands, and his blocking is as good as any in the league. He's a big-play guy.''
So, can the Steelers look to him with Bell unavailable for the Ravens game? No one would say for sure, but it's a possibility.
"We have a lot of options,'' center Maurkice Pouncey said. "And Heath certainly is one of them. He can catch the ball downfield when his number's called, and he can be a safety-valve if Ben needs him. We have all the confidence in the world in Heath.''
And with Bell out of the picture this week, Miller could be the player to watch for the Steelers.