From Heath to Heath: Pittsburgh Steelers hand torch to Jesse James

With the release of Ladarius Green, the Pittsburgh Steelers hand the tight end torch to Jesse James.

“Heaathhh.” For 11 years, that’s the only thing the city of Pittsburgh heard whenever former tight end, Heath Miller, caught the ball. In 2016, little has changed.

Being dubbed “Heath Miller two,” Jesse James has already won over the hearts of fans. With the release of Ladarius Green, it appears he’s won over the heart of the coaches as well.

The torch has been passed. James now owns the tight end position in Pittsburgh whether he’s ready or not. Fortunately, after a full season of starting, James is ready to take the place of Steelers legend, Heath Miller.

6’7, 254-pounds is a little larger than Miller ever was, but for an all-around tight end with massive hands and as one dangerous redzone target, James looks like the next coming of the 2-time Pro Bowler.

2017 may not be the breakout year Pittsburgh fans hope James has. He’s ready to take on the starting role, yes, but with the receiving core the Steelers have, he’s going to be more of a blocker and short yardage option than big play threat. Anywhere from 3-4 receptions a game is exactly what the Steelers are hoping for from the Penn State grad.

A developing year as the starter is the goal for James, but as someone believed to be a backup over the next three years, this is a significant leap of faith from the franchise. His expectations shouldn’t be high yet, although Steelers fans should look for more productivity than last season.

Getting handed the torch, James becomes the future of Pittsburgh’s tight end position. That doesn’t mean he’s a Pro Bowler right now. It means that moving forward; he becomes more of one season after season. Who knows? Maybe he’s ready to explode this year. If that’s the case, then hello Jesse. Or should we say, hello Heath.

James is still a project. He’s ready to take on the lead role, but with the understanding that he hasn’t reached his full potential yet. With the offense around him, though, the quarterback guiding him, and a city who’s already fallen in love with their new 6’7 tight end, Jesse James has a bright future ahead.

Welcome to the Steel City, Jesse. From the looks of it, you’re going to have a great time here. As the years progress, I’m sure you’ll find that Pittsburgh is exactly where you were meant to be.

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