Thanks in part to his career-high 10 catches Sunday in the loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller now has 21 catches through the first four games of the season. Only once in his career has Miller had more catches than that through the first four games played and that was in 2009 when had 24 receptions heading into his fifth game.
While Miller is on pace to catch 84 passes in 2014, we all know that’s unlikely to happen. If he stays healthy, however, the soon-to-be 32-year-old tight end has a good shot at registering a third 70 catch season.
During his weekly talk with the media Wednesday, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was asked to talk about his longtime tight end and his Sunday performance.
“I don’t know how much, how often I can talk about Heath. I always talk about how good he is and what he’s meant to me,” said Roethlisberger of Miller. “He’s a guy that is going to give you everything he has. He caught basically two touchdowns either on back-to-back plays or two within three plays and got his head knocked off on both of them and made a play. He’s just tough. He’s mentally tough, he’s physically tough.”
While Miller’s certainly not the same player that he was in 2009 when he caught a career-high 76 passes for 789 yards and six touchdowns, he’s still showing that he can be very productive on a game-to-game basis. Of the 12 tight ends in the league that currently have 15 or more receptions, Miller only trails Larry Donnell and Martellus Bennett when it comes to reception percentage on times targeted.
In the loss Sunday to the Buccaneers, Miller passed wide receiver Lynn Swann for the fourth-most receiving yards in franchise history (5,470). In addition, his next touchdown reception will be the 42nd of his career and that will tie him with Buddy Dial for fourth overall in Steelers team history.
Back in March, Miller, who was entering the final year of his contract at the time, restructured his deal in order to save the team some salary cap space. In doing so, two additional years were added and he’s now signed through the 2016 season. Based on how he’s playing so far this season, there’s no reason to think that won’t be back in 2015.
“He gives everything he has every single day and that’s in meetings, that’s in practice (and) that’s in the game,” Roethlisberger said Wednesday. “That’s what makes him so special and what makes it an honor to play with a guy like that.”