Pittsburgh Steelers: Can Heath Miller’s Return Help Running Game?

By Clyde A. Speller
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The rushing attack of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been abysmal to say the least in the first two weeks of the 2013 NFL regular season. The Steelers’ 75 total yards on the ground is ranked 31st in the league, and is actually less than the rushing totals of five quarterbacks.

Hopefully, the return of a key player this week will reverse the team’s misfortune. No, I’m not talking about rookie running back Le’Veon Bell. The player I’m referring to is tight end Heath Miller. The last time Miller saw action on the field was during Week 16 of the 2012 season when he suffered multiple ligament tears in his knee.

After offseason reconstructive knee surgery and strenuous rehabilitation, the Pro Bowl tight end is now listed as probable for Pittsburgh’s Week 3 matchup against the Chicago Bears. I don’t expect Miller to be a major impact player in the passing game after being away from the game for the past nine months. However, I do believe that the nine-year veteran will be vital in breathing new life into the Steelers’ running game.

Although a great deal of Pittsburgh’s success still depends on the production from their offensive line, Miller’s presence could simply keep the Bears’ defensive front seven at bay, preventing them from keeping an extra defender in the box against the run.

In addition, Miller’s route running across the middle of the field could open up more space for this week’s starting running back Felix Jones, and the rest of the Steelers’ running back corps.

I don’t expect for the addition of Miller to totally turn around Pittsburgh’s ground attack, especially against Chicago’s stingy defense. But this should be a step in the right direction for the Steelers’ offense, and for the team as a whole.

Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+

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