The regular season is now over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now upon us, there is plenty left to be done.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the playoffs as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to playoff success, in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Question: Will Ladarius Green be ready to participate for the Steelers when they host the Dolphins in the Wildcard Round at Heinz Field on Sunday?
The Steelers needed to make an impact move at the tight end position when Heath Miller elected to retire. Their move was to sign free agent Ladarius Green for four years at an average of $5 million per season. In his first year with the team, however, he only played in 37.5 percent of the team’s games, and just 140 snaps, with represented under 13 percent of their total offensive snaps.
Still, in the time that he did play, he proved to be highly productive, and had some big catches, and big games, for the Steelers, catching 18 passes in six games for 304 yards and a score. Seven of those receptions were explosive plays.
He caught five passes for 72 yards against the Bengals, including a 28-yard reception on the final drive that helped the Steelers close out the win, but he suffered a concussion on that play that knocked him out of the Ravens game.
Late in the week of practice for the Browns game on Sunday, Green was able to work in a limited capacity in practice, but while that is a good sign, it is not a surefire guarantee that he will be ready to play on Sunday. He was never going to play in the meaningless regular season finale, of course, but the practice steps remain important.
Green has had a frustrating first season with the Steelers through no fault of his own, which has caused him to be under fire from both fans and media at times—well, actually, quite frequently, even while he was performing.
But I can’t imagine anybody arguing that his return for the first playoff game wouldn’t provide a major boost for an offense that is looking to put everything together at just the right time, and getting that vertical seam threat out of the slot back would certainly add a needed spice to the recipe.