New blood pumps up tight end position

New blood pumps up tight end position

When looking at the Steelers' roster in recent seasons, one of the obvious weak spots was the tight end position. But the team may have changed that this spring by selecting Heath Miller with its first pick in the draft.

Miller will go into training camp No. 2 on the team's depth chart behind returning starter Jerame Tuman. But don't expect that to last long.

Miller is the best all-round talent the Steelers have had at the position in years and as soon as he proves he can hold up as a blocker, he'll be in the starting lineup. With Plaxico Burress gone, the Steelers will look to the 6-5 Miller to stretch the middle of the field and be the red zone option that Burress never was.

Heath Miller remains unsigned at this point, but shouldn't miss more than a day or two of training camp.

Tuman has never developed as the receiving threat the Steelers felt he would be coming out of college, but is a good blocker. He'll still see plenty of playing time in the team's two-tight end sets.

Walter Rasby spent much of last season as the team's No. 3 tight end, but will be hard-pressed to make the roster again this season. A good blocker, Rasby offers little as a receiver and the 11-year veteran may be at the end of the road.

Matt Kranchick served as the team's fourth tight end last season and the Steelers are likely to keep four again this season. The 6-7 Kranchick was a wide receiver in college, but has bulked up to 260 pounds. Kranchick showed good receiving skills in training camp last year, but was weak as a blocker. He'll need to show that he can not only carry his weight as a blocker, but also contribute as a special teams player if he wants to be active on game day.

Veterans Marco Battaglia and Matt Cushing will be in the mix for a roster spot as well, with Cushing holding the edge to stick with the team thanks to his ability to play fullback as well.

In fact, the team thinks so much of Cushing's ability to play fullback, it lists him at that position now instead of at tight end.

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