While a report last week suggested that the Steelers’ Ladarius Green was mulling retirement, the banged-up tight end has no intention of walking away from the sport, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link). Headaches and an ankle injury have reportedly prevented Green from practicing with the Steelers during training camp, but he expects to regain health sometime this year. In doing so, Green would avoid landing on injured reserve. For their part, the Steelers are exercising patience with Green in the hopes that he’ll come back to serve as an integral piece of their offense, says Cole.
Over the weekend, head coach Mike Tomlin shot down the notion that headaches have kept Green on the physically unable to perform list.
“He’s on PUP because of his ankle. We stated that,” said Tomlin. “He’s rehabbing nice. He’s gotten better in that area, but he’s not ready to go. I’m not going to respond to reports from unnamed sources.”
Not to suggest that Tomlin is covering up concussion-related issues, but head injuries have been a problem for Green in recent years. The former Charger suffered two apparent concussions in as many weeks last September and then complained of headaches, but he told Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh-Tribune Review in March that those were merely misdiagnosed sinus issues. Green also missed a game in 2014 because of a concussion.
Regardless of what’s preventing Green from playing, the Steelers are counting on him to eventually aid their Ben Roethlisberger-led passing attack. Pittsburgh inked Green to a four-year, $20MM deal in free agency after the 6-foot-6, 240-pounder showed promise behind Antonio Gates in San Diego. Although the 26-year-old has a difficult act to follow in the retired Heath Miller, an all-time great Steelers tight end, he’s clearly Pittsburgh’s best option at the position.
As Roster Resource shows, the Steelers’ non-Green tight end choices are 2015 fifth-round pick Jesse James (eight career receptions), 2014 undrafted free agent Xavier Grimble (zero appearances) and another former Charger, David Johnson (24 catches in 82 games). Green is easily more accomplished than each of them, having hauled in career highs in catches (37) and touchdowns (four) last season.
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