Miller says he'll play Thursday

The Pittsburgh Steelers will have the services of tight end Heath Miller for Thursday night's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

PITTSBURGH – Mike Tomlin would only go so far as to say "we could potentially get Heath Miller back."

Miller, though, said he's going to play. Maybe the 12 catches for 108 yards by his replacement, Matt Spaeth, have something to do with his speedy recovery.

"No, I feel good, like I'm ready to come back," Miller said. "I don't see a reason why I wouldn't play."

Miller missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain, but participated in yesterday's walk-through and said he feels fine. So, what did he think about the job turned in by Spaeth the last two games?

"I expected nothing less," Miller said. "He came through and did a great job."

Tomlin was asked why the Steelers -- after Miller had caught only 21 passes in eight games – dialed Spaeth's number so often the last two games.

"It is a function of the defenses that we have seen over the past couple of weeks that have created the umbrella defense," Tomlin said. "We went through a spell there where we were getting behind people; Nate Washington was catching balls behind people. Really, I think that it has been people are making a conscious effort to keep things inside of them. Part of smart football at times is taking what the defense is giving you. Not only have we stepped up the production from the tight end position, but Mewelde Moore has caught quite a few balls here the past couple of weeks. I really just think that it is a function of what defenses are willing to give us and us being smart enough to take it."

As for the rest of the injury list, Tomlin expects only cornerbacks Deshea Townsend (hamstring) and Bryant McFadden (forearm) and left tackle Marvel Smith (back) to miss the game.


The Steelers beat their Thursday night opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals, 38-10, earlier this season, but the Bengals had to address a different kind of revenge: Hines Ward's blindside block on Keith Rivers that ended the rookie's season with a busted jaw.

"Well, I'm sure there is (some talk)," said Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis. "Unfortunately, our player was injured and you know there'll be some revisions, I'm sure, to the rules after the season on that."

Lewis is a member of the competition committee and said the block was "within the spirit of the rules, right now." He expects the rule to be addressed in the off-season.

"I didn't think that it was dirty," said Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. "The result of what happened to Keith makes it look like it was worse that what it really was."

Is the rest of the team talking about payback?

"It was talked about initially, and when you saw Keith a couple days later, but it hasn't been talked about (since)," Houshmandzadeh said. "Maybe the guys on defense might feel differently, but it hasn't been talked about thus far."


Ward had a full plate Tuesday with reporters asking him about his three penalties Sunday, about how he was going to stand up to the revenge-minded Bengals, and about the offense throwing so often in wintry conditions. One reporter slipped a quick one in on him. He asked Ward if he knew that games couldn't end in a tie.

"No, I didn't know," Ward said. "I thought we were the last team to do it. I thought you played until you have a winner. It's kind of weird now that you can have a tie."

Ward, as he likes to say, will have "his hands cut out for him" explaining that one to his coach.

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