The Steelers’ biggest free agency pick-up of the 2016 offseason, Ladarius Green, has missed ample time throughout the regular season but could return this week for the Wild Card matchup against Miami.
Earlier this season, there were a number of reports that Ladarius Green’s career in the NFL could be coming to close. After excitement brewed all season about adding another big offensive threat to an already explosive offense, there was growing concern that Green would never hit the field wearing black and gold.
Fortunately, the reports were found false, and the ankle injury that Tomlin persisted was the problem was finally healed. Green hit the field, and while the first two games for the tight end were nothing spectacular, reeling in just three receptions over the span of two weeks for just 30 yards, he soon unleashed the expected wrath on the NFL.
His biggest performance of the year was against the New York Giants, where he exploded for six receptions, 110 yards, and a touchdown. Roethlisberger continued to heap praise on the speedy tight end and he continued to put up the numbers.
Following his first two mediocre performances, he put up at least 65 yards every game, except for a game against Buffalo, where the Steelers primarily ran the ball. But he also made a huge impact on the offense that stat sheets can’t really display.
Green’s presence on the field brought attention away from the other superstars on the offense, allowing star Antonio Brown, who had been in primarily double coverage all season to find some one-on-one opportunities and reaped the benefits. This factor was mostly displayed in his debut against Dallas when Brown racked up 14 receptions for 154 yards, his season highs.
With Pittsburgh heading into the playoffs, having their target back will be key. While the Steelers have heavily relied on running the ball in recent weeks, and it has worked well, having another weapon in the pass games open up the opportunity to release a two-dimensional onslaught that could annihilate Miami.
With both cornerback Byron Maxwell and safety Baccari Rambo questionable for the game, the Dolphins secondary could be in trouble, especially facing Roethlisberger’s arsenal of offensive weapons that might be the best in the league. If the Dolphins start to shut down the run early on, don’t be surprised if the Steelers start to launch the ball down the field against the diminished secondary.
With a speedy 6’6″ tight end on the field on top of one of the best receiving corps in the league, it’ll be hard for Miami to contain every piece, and will likely be unable to double cover Brown. Not only could Green have a big game, but he could completely open up the entire offense.
Green is currently questionable, but if he suits up against the Dolphins on Sunday, watch out.