The Pittsburgh Steelers spent good money to bring in free agent Ladarius Green during the offseason, and the big tight end got on the field for the first time all year on Sunday, seeing five targets, so it probably makes sense to actually take a look at those five targets and see what they say.
Admittedly, given that he only played 12 snaps, we’re not going to learn a great deal about his day, and as I point out in my charting notes breakdown, he was featured exclusively on passing plays. Of those plays, he only set as a wide receiver twice, so it will be interesting to see how that evolves going forward.
Green did not see a snap in the game until after the Steelers scored their first touchdown on the opening drive. At that point, he came onto the field in a two-tight end set for the two-point conversion try, set as the left in-line blocker, with Le’Veon Bell motioning out to his side.
The offense had three receivers to the right causing confusion, with one cutting left and Bell moving to the right. Green came out of his stance for a fade in the left corner of the end zone, but safety Byron Jones did a nice job of covering him.
Green did have a chance to catch this ball, albeit a difficult one, but he was unable to. After the game, he said he wished he could have that one back. You may have seen that Green was limited in practice on Wednesday with some swelling in his knee. As Chris Adamski confirmed to me yesterday on Twitter, it was from this play, when he banged his right knee on the ground as he landed.
@mmarczi That’s what Green said too (ha – not the curse at his coach; the knee hurt on 1st snap thing)
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) November 17, 2016
Green’s first official target, since two-point plays don’t count in the stats, came midway through the second quarter. From 25 yards outside of the end zone, he was once again set as the tight end on the left side, but this time off the snap he took off down the seam. I chose this end zone view, however, to show how the ball placement here, and perhaps miscommunication, contributed to the incompletion, rather than faulting his speed.
Now, as for his first catch as a Steeler, that came at the end of the first half with 13 seconds remaining. Here, all Green was really doing was using his size to box out the defender down the middle of the field, in this case the safety Jones again, and turning and presenting his numbers to the quarterback.
His other two receptions came at the beginning and end of the fourth quarter. Once again coming out of that left tight end position, this time he just stopped and turned, sank into a zone point, and caught the ball between two defenders. This was on second and 20, so the defense was lenient. The Steelers did punt two plays later.
It was a similar deal on his final reception, though this time he worked off the right side. He sank to a point in the zone and turned to present himself for an easy catch. the Steelers really did not push him much at all in his debut.
Considering that he banged up his knee on the first play, one might wonder if that had some impact on as least the level of athleticism that he displayed in the game, if not his snap count. Expect him to get a wider variety of looks and increased playing time on Sunday.