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PITTSBURGH -- Heath Miller practiced for a third consecutive day, and the Steelers' tight end will play Sunday night against the Bears barring a setback.
"I'm close to the end now," Miller said Friday after practice. "It's been a long time sitting and watching." Miller, who had surgery late last December to repair three ligaments in his right knee, has made steady progress since the Steelers took him off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
Miller is listed as probable for the 8:30 p.m. ET game against the Bears while rookie running back Le'Veon Bell (foot) is questionable.
Starting cornerback Cortez Allen will miss his second consecutive game because of a sprained ankle. Miller's return should provide a major boost to an offense that has been one of the worst in the NFL through the first two weeks of the season.
The 6-foot-5, 256-pound Miller is one of the best all-around tight ends in the NFL, and his teammates voted Miller the team MVP last season. Coach Mike Tomlin said earlier this week the Steelers can't expect Miller "to step out of a phone booth with a cape on," and the ninth-year veteran echoed those sentiments after the team's final practice of the week.
"Whenever I'm ready to play I think it's unrealistic to think I'm going to come back in midseason form," said Miller, who caught 71 passes for a career-high 816 yards before shredding his knee in the 15th game last season. "I've had some positive days this week so we'll evaluate how I felt, how the coaches think I looked and I'm sure they'll make a decision based on that."
Bell said he had another positive day Friday, and he hasn't ruled out playing Sunday night. Bell practiced for a second consecutive day and he tries to come back from the mid-foot sprain he sustained in an Aug. 19 preseason.
"I really exceeded what I thought I was going to do out there today," Bell said. "My foot felt amazing today. The question is how I feel tomorrow."
Felix Jones is expected to start at running back for the Steelers even if Bell does play.
"I felt real confident in myself today and I'm just going to continue to get better and move forward," Bell said. "(His foot) felt a little sore before practice but once I got a little more loose I was able perform the way I wanted to."