Superman Nearing Steelers Return

Heath Miller's last game (LeClaire/USA TODAY)

Steelers tight end Heath Miller might practice this week, but Mike Tomlin said he won't be Superman. Hey, we'll be the judge. More from Tomlin's press conference:

Steelers tight end Heath Miller might practice on a full-time basis this week for the first time since tearing his ACL last December against the Cincinnati Bengals.

That could lead to the Steelers' reigning Team MVP returning to play Sunday night against the Chicago Bears.

But Steelers coach Mike Tomlin warned that "We are not expecting Heath to step out of a phone booth with a cape on."

Tomlin spoke at his weekly press conference the day after his Steelers fell to 0-2 by losing to the Bengals, 20-10.

Since Tomlin was in the midst of working on a short week for the upcoming Bears game, it was fitting that he addressed the other pertinent topics in short, direct fashion:

"Jarvis Jones started his first game. He was very active."

Hines Ward, Joey Porter and James Harrison were immediate sensations on special teams in their early years with the Steelers, and Jones is showing the same kind of ability.

Jones opened the game by leading Felix Jones on his 34-yard kickoff return, and was consistently among the first coverage men down field on punts.

After the Steelers had tied the game late in the second quarter, Jarvis Jones ran through a blocker to tackle Brandon Tate at the 15 and the teams went to halftime tied.

Unlike the aforementioned Steelers legends, Jones is starting early in his rookie season. The outside linebacker appeared confused at times, but made plays in coverage, the run game, and had one QB pressure.

"I was encouraged by some of the things Felix Jones was able to do."

Felix Jones wasn't supposed to start at running back, but did so after Isaac Redman was hurt on the opening kickoff.

Jones led the Steelers with 37 yards on 10 carries, all in the first half. As Tomlin pointed out, Jones bounced plays outside, ran tough inside to convert in short-yardage and move the ball off his own goal line, and also ran 14 yards on a third-and- 16 draw thanks to a key block from David Paulson.

On the downside, Jones' only other kickoff return was a timid 17-yarder, and he performed poorly as a pass-blocker.

"In regards to the contributions of Kion Wilson and Vince Williams, I like where they are, and I like where they're going."

The inexperienced replacements for Larry Foote at buck inside linebacker had some good moments against the Bengals' run game, but each were victimized on the two Bengals touchdowns.

Giovani Bernard ran through Williams on his 7-yard touchdown run in the first half, and Bernard's 27-yard touchdown catch -and-run went through an open middle of the field that Wilson had vacated. Tomlin called it "a miscommunication."

Williams made 7 tackles and Wilson made 4 -- according to the Gamebook -- and Wilson added 3 special-teams tackles.

"(The tackles) need improvement in terms of their quality of play."

Right tackle Marcus Gilbert got off to an ominous start when he was knocked on his back on the first play, and then gave up a sack on the second series. But Gilbert settled down and allowed only one QB pressure the rest of the game.

Gilbert was called for a tripping penalty in the third quarter of a tie game. The Steelers had gained 33 yards to the Cincinnati 30 on a third-and-10 play, but it was called back and the Steelers punted.

"It wasn't a trip," said Tomlin, who added it was "a poor call," an "inappropriate call" and "wasn't the correct call."

Adams, the left tackle, allowed 5 QB pressures but no sacks. He was capable in the run game and got out in front of Antonio Brown's 14-yard screen play.

As for the other injuries, Tomlin said running back Le'Veon Bell (mid-foot sprain) will begin working in individual drills this week in practice and reserve cornerback Curtis Brown will return from his illness. Tomlin said he had no update on cornerback Cortez Allen's ankle injury, but that he's "optimistic about his participation."

Minor injuries may slow Jarvis Jones (heal contusion), defensive end Brett Keisel (left calf strain) and nose tackle Steve McLendon (minor hamstring strain) early in the week, but they're expected to play Sunday.

So might Superman.

"No," Tomlin said of whether Miller would provide the offense a security blanket. "Obviously, he is a good player and is going to be a positive contributor to our efforts when he comes back, but we aren't sitting around holding our breath waiting for him to come back. That's not the nature in which we are approaching this thing. The guys that are ready to play and are healthy are preparing to do so and are capable. If he is one of them, great. If he is not, we will continue to work."

NOTES: The Steelers promoted CB Isaiah Green from their practice squad and released kicker Shayne Graham.

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