LATROBE, Pa. (93-7 THE FAN) — Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin began his seventh training camp with the franchise by placing four injured players, including two-time Pro Bowl tight end Heath Miller, on the PUP (Physically Unable To Perform) list.
Joining Miller, who has been sidelined since an ACL/MCL tear suffered in Week 16 of last season, are fellow tight end David Johnson, linebacker Sean Spence, and nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu.
Meanwhile, on a positive note, offensive lineman and off-season stabbing victim Mike Adams, per Tomlin, has been cleared to practice. While the suspects in Adams’ case stand trial, this comes as a pleasantly surprising development; many speculated he would not be ready for the start of camp.
With 4,680 yards and 39 touchdowns on 408 catches, Miller, entering his ninth NFL season, ranks among the top five receivers in Steeler history, and is the team’s all-time leader in receptions by a tight end. He finished 2012 with a career-best 816 yards receiving and eight TD’s.
Johnson is entering just his third professional season as the Steelers’ fullback and backup tight end. He missed all of the 2012 campaign due to an ACL tear suffered in the preseason opener at Philadelphia, but was still re-signed to a one-year contract Mar. 12.
Ta’amu, by now, is perhaps better known for his troubles off the field than his troubles on it. On Apr. 4 Ta’amu pleaded guilty to an Oct. 2012 DUI crash on the South Side. The 2012 fourth-round draftee from Washington was cut and later re-signed by the Steelers.
Spence, drafted last year in the third round (86th overall) after making First Team All-ACC at Miami (Fla.), had his rookie season wrecked prematurely by a knee injury.
Although, according to comments made this spring by linebacker coach Keith Butler, Spence’s football career remains in peril, he has publicly stated a goal of overcoming said injury and playing for the Steelers this year.
Post-Gazette Steelers reporter Ray Fittipaldo tweeted Spence has been cutting more on his injured knee and claims to have regained some of his speed.
Speaking of Twitter, Tomlin–who can now be found and followed on the social media site @CoachTomlin as of Friday–spoke to 93.7 The Fan’s Eric Hagman about this attention-grabbing endeavor.
Tomlin said it “should be exciting,” and, not surprisingly, he is already following every Steeler with a Twitter account.
Meanwhile, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, according to Tomlin, is ready for practice, some minor discomfort in his surgically-repaired right knee not withstanding.
Big Ben threw for a robust 3,265 yards and 26 TD’s against just eight picks, but key injuries to his shoulder and ribs kept him out of three late-season games, two of which the Steelers dropped before narrowly missing the playoffs in spite of his return.
During a recent trip to London (where the Steelers will play the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4) Roethlisberger told reporters the knee “felt better than ever before.”
In other news from day one, left tackle Marcus Gilbert was seen being carted off the field, but Tomlin said he knew nothing of the matter.
The first official practice of camp gets underway Saturday afternoon just before 3:00 P.M.