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Ladarius Green a 'pleasant surprise,' Darrius Heyward-Bey moves up depth chart

Steelers tight end Ladarius Green is still on the PUP list but has shown encouraging signs since returning to practice Oct. 25. Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Ladarius Green is on the clock for a return in the second half of the season, and coach Mike Tomlin likes what he sees so far.

Green is still on the physically unable to perform list but started practicing Oct. 25. The Steelers have a 21-day window from that date to activate Green, who signed a four-year, $20 million deal in the offseason.

Though it's uncertain when Green will be physically ready coming off his ankle injury, Tomlin has noticed Green's preparation.

"It has been a pleasant surprise he’s displayed some detail in his work," Tomlin said. "I think we’re going to analyze it week to week, with this week being included in that as well."

Don't be surprised if Green stays out of the lineup for this weekend's game against the Baltimore Ravens, with Jesse James and Xavier Grimble remaining the Steelers' top two tight ends. But Green's practice work is a positive sign.

As for the Steelers' playmakers, wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey is now in a starter's role alongside Antonio Brown on Pittsburgh's depth chart for this week's game.

The team had no choice but to move Markus Wheaton to second string after he's missed four games with a shoulder injury and has struggled to find a rhythm in the three games he has played. Plus, Heyward-Bey has been a valuable reserve receiver and special-teamer; he nearly caught two touchdown passes in Week 7 against the New England Patriots.

Sammie Coates will eventually regain a prominent role once his broken finger heals, but he's been listed as a No. 2 all season.