The Pittsburgh Steelers signed former San Diego Chargers tight end Ladarius Green to a four-year, $20 million contract during the first night of the new league and earlier this week, head coach Mike Tomlin finally gave his thoughts on the team’s newest passing threat during an interview with Missi Matthews of steelers.com.
“He’s a dynamic athlete,” said Tomlin of Green, who the Steelers had in for a pre-draft visit back in 2012. “He’s got vertical speed and it’s going to be unique from a positional standpoint. We’re excited about seeing what he brings. I’m making conscious effort not to have a lot of preconceived notions and I’m really just interested in getting to know him as a player within our offense.
“I think that we have plenty of time to develop and fortify that role. I think often times that if we just take a step back and don’t have too many preconceived plans that we may find interest in things that he’s capable of that we didn’t even anticipate.”
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert also talked about the team adding Green during an interview on ESPN earlier this week.
“He’ll bring us a dimension at tight end that we really haven’t had,” Colbert said. “Heath [Miller] was a great receiver, a great blocker. He wasn’t really a stretch the field guy. Ladarius gives you that added dimension of speed, he’ll have to work on his blocking to get caught up to where we need him to be. But the speed and vertical threat at tight end is really something we haven’t had.”
On Tuesday, Green’s former head coach, Mike McCoy, was asked to talk about the Steelers new tight end during the annual AFC coaches breakfast at the league meetings in Boca Raton, Florida and he spoke glowingly about the former fourth-round draft pick.
“He is a great guy,” McCoy told Matthews. “Everyone on the team loves the guy. He doesn’t say a whole lot, but then every once in a while when he speaks up and says it, he gets the room rolling. He shows up and does his job. He worked extremely hard for us and I wish all the best in Pittsburgh.”
McCoy was also asked if Green was helped by playing behind future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates while in San Diego.
“Without a doubt he took advantage of being behind Antonio,” said McCoy. “When you have a great quarterback like Philip [Rivers], the ball is going to be spread around. There were plenty of times both him and Antonio were on the field. He is a very hard worker. He did an outstanding job. He has a bright future in Pittsburgh.”
It will indeed be interesting to see how the Steelers incorporate Green into their offense moving forward and especially being as they won’t have the services of wide receiver Martavis Bryant for the entire 2016 season due to a suspension. While Green certainly showed a lot of potential during his four seasons with the Chargers, he’s yet to show that he can be counted on to be an every-down player the way recently retired tight end Heath Miller was during his career in Pittsburgh.
As Colbert noted, Green will need to make a lot of strides when it comes to his blocking and that’s something Alex Kozora pointed out in his breakdown of the Steelers new tight end shortly after he was signed.
Green enters Pittsburgh with 77 career receptions for 1,087 yards and 7 touchdowns.