When the Pittsburgh Steelers face off against the Dallas Cowboys at Heinz Field this afternoon, they’ll do so with a new face on the offensive huddle. The highly anticipated move saw the Steelers activate Ladarius Green while cutting L.J. Fort to create roster space.
The Steelers of course signed Ladarius Green to replace Heath Miller when Heath Miller retired after the 2015 season. While it will be difficult for Ladarius Green to replace Heath Miller’s legendary dependability, Green does have strech the field speed.
In that respect, he could potentially provide relief for Antonio Brown who had been bracketed by double and triple coverages, as the Steelers have cycled through Eli Rogers, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Sammie Coates as number 2 receivers (Markus Wheaton has been injured, and it does not appear he will play this week.)
An End to the Steelers Tight End by Committee Approach?
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger described Green as a “brand-new Ferrari in the impound lot that I’m just looking through a fence at.” Ladarius Green of course has been on the PUP list, due to an ankle injury he had when the Steelers signed him in addition to lingering effect of a concussion he suffered at the end of 2015.
- In his absence, the Steelers have relied on a “Tight end by committee” approach, alternating time between Jesse James, David Johnson and Xavier Grimble.
Ladarius Green has been practicing since the Steelers bye week, and with Mike Tomlin, Todd Haley and Green’s teammates have praised his performance in practice, some reports have been skeptical. In the his message board at Steel City Insider, Jim Wexell had openly expressed doubt as to whether Green would even be activated based on his performance in practice, and his more public comments on Twitter echo those sentiments:
JMHO, and I could be wrong, but I wouldn't be adding Green to my fantasy team just yet.
— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) November 12, 2016
Nonetheless, the Steelers decision to retain Johnson, Grimble and James amounts to a vote of confidence for their existing tight end trio, with both Jesse James and Xavier Grimble showing a lot of “upside” while David Johnson has provided stability, solid blocking and position flexibly.