Miller encouraged after first full practice

PITTSBURGH -- Heath Miller went through his first full practice in roughly nine months Wednesday as the Pittsburgh Steelers tight end took another significant step toward returning from a major knee injury.

“I’m encouraged by the way I felt,” Miller said. “We’ll see how it feels in the morning and try to keep pushing through the week and see if it’s going to build up.”

How Miller’s knee responds to the increased work slated for this week will determine whether the ninth-year veteran plays Sunday night against the visiting Chicago Bears.

The Steelers won’t rush Miller back, even though the team’s 2012 MVP would help them in both the running and passing game.

He underwent reconstructive knee surgery after tearing several ligaments, including his anterior cruciate ligament, last December against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Miller came off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list Aug. 31, and he had been practicing on a limited basis before taking part in all drills Wednesday.

“It feels pretty good right now,” Miller said of his knee.

Running back Le'Veon Bell (foot) was a limited participant in practice, a day after Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said the rookie would start doing individual drills this week.

Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (heel) was also limited in practice, but he is expected to play Sunday, while Bell still appears to be a couple of weeks away from returning.

Cornerback Cortez Allen (ankle) and defensive end Brett Keisel (calf) did not practice Wednesday.