A year ago Heath Miller was nothing but a spectator during the team's OTAs, recovering from a knee injury he suffered at the end of the 2012 season. He talked then about how good it felt to be "watching the guys work," when all he wanted to do was be out there with them.
This offseason has been completely different for the Steelers' tight end. Miller, who worked his way back onto the field in the third game last season, is a full participant in OTAs at the team's practice facility and continues to get stronger every day.
"I feel good," said Miller. "Hopefully I will continue to keep getting better and be good to go when the season starts. But I am encouraged with where I am."
Miller spent many a day working out in the Steelers' weight room during the initial stages of the offseason program this year, but like many of his teammates is happy to be on the field now, doing what they love most.
"It feels good to do something different," said Miller. "I think everybody has been training hard in the weight room and conditioning so it feels good to do something different and practice what we are here for."
Miller said that while the OTAs are good for someone like himself, they are even better for some of the young players and newcomers to the Steelers, which are plentiful.
"There are a lot of new faces and this is what these practices are good for," said Miller. "We all get a chance to mesh together and learn each other's strength and weaknesses and learn to play together.
"There are a lot of new faces. These practices are important for a team like ours. Up front on offense we have most of the guys back so that is a good thing. We have some new receivers and running backs so these practices are good for us."
And getting the new faces, guys like receiver Lance Moore and running back LeGarrette Blount, comfortable with the offense, including the no-huddle, will be a key this time of year.
"I think we will have (the no-huddle) as a weapon," said Miller. "As to how much we will use it you can never tell. I think we are capable. I think these practices will be good to get the young guys up to speed, the new guys up to speed as to how we communicate and attack the defense."