Sometimes, things just don’t work out. Such is the case with Ladarius Green and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers 2016 off season began with the retirement of Heath Miller. Faced with the task of replacing Heath Miller’s legendary dependability in the passing game, the Steelers acted swiftly by signing Ladarius Green on the first day of free agency.
- Fans salivated at the prospect of Green stretching the field for Ben Roethlisberger and opening things up for Martavis Bryant and Antonio Brown
Even after Martavis Bryant’s suspension, Ladarius Green promised to give the Steelers a viable weapon to compensate. Then Green sat out OTA’s due to his ankle. Then he began training camp on the PUP. Then conflicting report arose detailing Ladarius Green’s ongoing concussion symptoms.
As fate would have it, Ladarius Green didn’t see the field until mid-season, but he made almost an immediate impact. Then he suffered another concussion against Cincinnati and his season was over. And now we know, so was his career with the Steelers.
Ladarius Green’s Career with the Steelers = “Good While It Lasted”
Ladarius Green’s Pittsburgh Steelers career consisted of 6 games, 2 starts, 18 catches for 304 yards and one touchdown. With Bryant out and Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey ailing, the Steelers offense struggled to find a receiver capable of taking heat off of Antonio Brown.
- By the time the Steelers late season run was in full swing, it looked like Ladarius Green’s emergence might alter that equation.
18 catches for 304 yards might not sound like much, but in the Steelers Thanksgiving win over the Colts, their win over the Giants and their road victory over the Bengals, Ladarius Green proved to be a difference making, flipping the field at critical moments in all three games.
Just when it seemed like the Steelers might have found the vertical threat that neither Eli Rogers, nor Sammie Coates, nor Cobi Hamilton could provide, Ladarius Green suffered another concussion as he went over the middle to make another clutch catch on the road against the Bengals.
Fans speculated that the Steelers might part ways with their tight end. This site suggested that the Steelers day one signing of Davidy Johnson suggested the Steelers were questioning Green’s return.
- Yet, Kevin Colbert affirmed that Ladarius Green was in the Steelers plans for 2017.
The Steelers deed of not to pick a tight end during the 2017 NFL Draft seemed to confirm their words. Clearly the calculus has changed.
Jesse James’ Baptism by Fire Begins in Earnest
With Ladarius Green gone, all eyes turn towards Jesse James who now becomes the incumbent starter at tight end.
Jesse James was the Steelers 5th round draft pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and it says here that since picking him, Jesse James has done everything the Steelers have asked him today. While 2016 certainly didn’t represent a breakout season for James, he did come up with clutch catches on any number of occasions, including the Steelers Christmas Comeback over the Ravens.
Nonetheless, when reviewing the Steelers depth chart at tight end most fans and analysts have tended to couch their critiques of the Steelers Depth Chart at tight end with comments like, “Jesse James had a good second season. But….”
- Very soon, Steelers Nation will see if Jesse James can erase those “buts.”
Behind James, the Steelers have David Johnson who’ll work in as a number 2 tight end, and Xavier Grimble playing as the number 3. Undrafted rookie free agent Scott Orndoff is also expected to push for a roster spot.