Pittsburgh Steelers continue to look for Heath Miller's replacement

Ankle, head issues force Ladarius Green off Steelers roster for at least six weeks

PITTSBURGH -- The dreadful Ladarius Green experiment took its next and rather unsurprising turn Tuesday when the Pittsburgh Steelers placed their primary free-agent acquisition of the offseason on the Reserve/PUP list.

Green won't be able to play or practice until after Week 6 of the season.

After Week 6, the Steelers will have a five-week window in which Green can begin practicing. From that first practice day, the team will have an additional 21 days to activate him. If they don't, Green would have to miss the rest of the season.

Green, of course, is the 6-6 tight end whom the Steelers signed away from the San Diego Chargers with a four-year, $20 million contract. He was expected to replace the retired Heath Miller in the starting lineup but has sat out every practice while recovering from post-2015 ankle surgery. He's also struggled through headaches which are feared to be related to concussions suffered while playing with the Chargers.

The Steelers move on at the position with last year's fifth-round draft pick Jesse James, last season's practice-squadder Xavier Grimble, and H-back/fullback David Johnson, the former Steeler who spent two years in San Diego and was re-signed this year.

The three players have played in a combined 66 games (counting playoffs) and caught 33 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns.

In 13 games last season, Green caught 37 passes for 429 yards and four touchdowns.

"These young guys are continually on the rise, in terms of the quality of their play," Mike Tomlin said about James and Grimble. "We’ll expect that maturation process to continue as we get into the regular season. None of us are finished products just because we’re approaching opening day. I’ll expect those guys to continually get better on a day-to-day basis, and even over the course of the journey."

James and Grimble may have played their best football last Friday in New Orleans.

James caught four passes for 25 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to cap the opening drive. The athletic Grimble caught two passes for 26 yards, including a 22-yarder to highlight a series in which he also drove linebacker James Laurinaitis several yards downfield while leading Le'Veon Bell on an outside counter.

Johnson, who came to camp at 245 pounds and called it "the best shape of my life," also caught two passes (12 yards) last game.

"He’s a pro," Tomlin said of the 29-year-old Johnson. "He’s a detailed guy and we’re glad we got him."

The Steelers also released safety Jacob Hagen, defensive tackle DeVaunte Sigler and cornerback Kevin White on Tuesday to get down to the league-mandated 75-man roster. The Steelers must get down to 53 players by 4 p.m. Saturday.


Steel City Insider Top Stories