LATROBE, Pa. -- Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger caused a few double takes when he warmed up in a No. 83 jersey -- which belonged to Heath Miller for 11 seasons -- on the first day of Pittsburgh Steelers training camp.
Miller is second in team history with 592 receptions and made two Pro Bowls. He retired after the 2015 season.
Roethlisberger wore No. 83 during stretching and throwing, then switched back to his No. 7 for 11-man work.
The day was tough without Miller, Roethlisberger said.
“I wanted to wear it today hoping maybe he would appear from somewhere and come out and play a little bit,” Roethlisberger said. “Just an honor of a guy who deserves to be honored.”
Added coach Mike Tomlin: “I just miss him -- the guy, the man.”
The Steelers are depleted at tight end to start camp. Ladarius Green, who signed a four-year, $20 million contract in free agency, is on the physically unable to perform list after undergoing offseason ankle surgery. Green told ESPN he has two plates in his ankle, which will stabilize the injury long term, but he needs time to refine his cutting on the field.
Second-year tight end Jesse James sits atop the depth chart for now.
Roethlisberger likes James’ game and can’t wait to get to work with Green but wants his tight ends to be themselves. He’s noticed the young tight ends were overeager on the first day, trying to make every play.
“They don’t need to try to be Heath Miller,” said Roethlisberger of his new tight ends. “That’s not what we’re trying to do.”