Skip to main content

Learning from history, trying to repeat it

When quarterback Ben Roethlisberger indirectly likened second-round selection Pat Freiermuth to tight end idol Heath Miller following the rookie's two-touchdown performance against Detroit, it wasn't the first time such a comparison had been offered.

Nor is it likely to be the last.

"He's a Steeler," Roethlisberger observed following Saturday night's 26-20 victory over the Lions. "He reminds me of another tight end we've had here before."

There was no misidentifying the reference.

Just as there's no denying Freiermuth intrigues at the position the way Miller once did.

That's already been discussed, as well.

"Since coming here I've watched a lot of film on Heath and Ben has shown me a lot of film on Heath," Freiermuth said this week on a visit with the DVE Morning Show. "We wanted to watch, concept-wise, what he used to do with Heath.

"He wanted to sit down and watch it and told one of our assistants to put some film together, some concepts that he wanted to put in against certain teams and things like that, just so I'd get a head start on it."

The two arrived at a mutual conclusion, Freiermuth said, regarding the benefits of such a study.

"Kind of both of our ideas, just kinda talking through some things," Freiermuth said. "It was awesome just to kinda go through film and kinda see what his process is like and learn from a future Hall-of-Famer."

Miller, 6-foot-5 and 256 pounds, retired following the 2015 season after 592 receptions, 45 receiving TDs, three Super Bowl appearances and two Lombardi trophies won in 11 years with the Steelers.

He ranks third in franchise history in receptions, fifth in receiving touchdowns and fourth with 6,569 receiving yards, yet is held in equally high esteem for his blocking.

Freiermuth, 6-5, 260, has seen aspects of Miller's game he finds recognizable on tape.

"I think we have similar skill sets," Freiermuth said. "Our bodies move the same on the field.

"The awareness of coverages and what the defense is trying to do, I think we're kinda similar in that aspect."

There's also a polish and a poise associated with both that resonates.

"He's just been catching everything," quarterback Mason Rudolph said after the Lions game. "He turns his head quick out of routes.

"He's not a rookie. He seems older than he really is. I mean, there's a stretch there this first six or seven practices (of training camp) where he didn't drop a single ball. And there were some balls that were outside his radius.

"I think just his comfortability, he's relatively calm out there and doesn't have the wide-eyed, deer-in-the-headlights look, hasn't had that."

For the record, Freiermuth acknowledged having dropped two balls heading into Tuesday's practice.

As many as he caught in the end zone in his Heinz Field debut game.

"Pat's gonna keep on making plays for us," Roethlisberger said.

Roethlisberger knows such a play-maker when he sees one.