PITTSBURGH -- Steelers tight end Heath Miller is many things.
A great quote is not one of them.
Miller has stayed true to form as he works his way back from the major knee injury he sustained late last December, offering only vague generalities when asked about his recovery.
On Tuesday, coach Mike Tomlin, however, provided the strongest indication to date that Miller will open the season on the Steelers’ 53-man roster.
“He’s doing great, he really is,” Tomlin said while previewing the Steelers’ preseason finale Thursday night at Carolina. “We’re going to look more hard-core at him when we get back. The fact that I mentioned his name would give an indication that things are progressing and progressing nicely.”
Tomlin included Miller in the injury report for the Panthers game, which prompted a question of where the underrated and understated tight end is physically.
Miller tore multiple ligaments in his right knee, including the ACL, in the penultimate game of the 2012 season. His health becomes increasingly significant with each passing day as the Steelers have until 6 p.m. on Saturday to add Miller to their roster or keep him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
Miller probably won’t be ready for the Sept. 8 regular-season opener even if the Steelers put the ninth-year veteran on their 53-man roster. But if Miller isn’t activated from the PUP list before Saturday evening, he isn’t eligible to play in the first six games of the season.
There are few players who are more respected and more important than Miller in the Steelers’ locker room.
He has long been one of the top all-around tight ends, if not the standard for those at his position who are required to block and catch with equal aplomb.
Miller set a career high with 816 receiving yards last season, and his teammates voted him Steelers MVP after he also caught 71 passes and scored eight touchdowns.
Tomlin and the Steelers’ medical staff haven’t had to worry about Miller putting in the necessary work to get back. He is as conscientious and professional as they come.
His knee has to be strong enough for the Steelers to allow Miller to start practicing. The knee will then have to hold up through the grind of several practices before Miller is ready for game action.
If Miller knows when that will happen, he isn't saying.
“It’s still the same for me,” Miller said, “just taking it day by day and put good days together and hopefully that leads to a good outcome sooner rather than later.”
Nothing would be better for the Steelers than to get Miller back.
And sooner rather than later.