Steeler Nation,the countdown to training camp is winding down fast. With just days before the Steelers report to Latrobe, lets take a look at the Steelers’ tight end position.
State of theTight End position : Whenever you talk Steelers tight ends,you got to start with Heath Miller. Miller has been Mr. reliable for almost a decade. In 2013 Miller was coming back from a major knee operation and had somewhat of a down season by his standards catching 58 catches for 593 yards and 1 touchdown.The Steelers also have Matt Spaeth who returned after two seasons with the Chicago Bears. Spaeth is somewhat underrated, but is one of the top blocking tight ends in the NFL. In 2013 Spaeth missed a lot of the season with a foot injury.He played in the last 4 games starting 2 and the Steelers running game prospered with his return.Behind Miller and Spaeth the Steelers have very little depth with the only experienced vets being David Paulson and Michael Palmer.The Steelers drafted rookie Rob Blanchflower in the 7th round and also picked up undrafted free agent Eric Waters.
The Bottom line is the Steelers’ tight end position starts with Heath Miller and there is a huge drop-off as far as the passing game without him. In 2014 the Steelers need one of these young players to step up and the goal this training camp is to find some quality depth.
A look at the Tight Ends…
Heath Miller: Miller 31, now is heading into his 10th season. He is one of the most consistent and reliable players on the Steelers offense with the ability to contribute in both the passing game and running game. Miller may be heading into the back end of his career but still has plenty left in the tank and is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger main go to guy.
Matt Spaeth: Spaeth 30, is now in his 8th season.Matt Spaeth is a very good run blocker and the Steelers know what he brings to the table. Unfortunately, Spaeth offers little to the passing game having made only 50 career catches since entering the league. With that being said Spaeth with his run blocking and NFL experience is almost a lock to make the team.
David Paulson: Paulson was a Steelers’ seventh round pick in 2012 that surprisingly made the roster and played as a rookie. Paulson has shown some ability as a pass catcher but seemed to take a step backward in 2013. He is not a very good run blocker and that makes him a one dimensional player. Heading into his third season David Paulson must improve on all aspects of his game especially his run blocking or he could be on the bubble.
Michael Palmer: Palmer was picked up off waivers August 8th 2013 after being cut from the Seattle Seahawks . Palmer did not do much to speak of in 2013 but had his first catch as a Steeler November 10th and also had a couple special teams tackles during the season. Palmer is average at best and may never be starter material. His ability to play special teams and the fact that he has NFL experience may help him make the team again but he is on the fringe at best.
Rob Blanchflower: Blanchflower is a 2014 7th round pick who started 27 games at Massachusetts and had 109 career catches for 1,164 yards and nine touchdowns. He was hampered last season with a sports hernia but has since fully recovered from the injury. Steelers tight ends coach James Daniel said he is a two phase tight end with the ability to catch and block adeptly. Blanchflower may have a shot at making the 53 man roster as a rookie, but must show what he is capable of through camp and the preseason.
Eric Waters: 6-5 245 out of Missouri went undrafted but is H- Back capable . Project at best right now. Should be considered a long shot to make the team.
Bryce Davis: Spent some time with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013 mostly on the practice squad. He also is a long snapper . Was an undrafted rookie in 2012 out of Central Oklahoma. He is a long shot to make the team.
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