Steelers tight end Heath Miller addresses the New England media during his conference call on Wednesday, November 10, 2010.
Q: What have you seen from the Patriots on film?
HM: Obviously, I think they're a good ball club, and their film certainly indicates that. Defensively, they are a stingy group, they've got a good front, and they're very opportunistic on the back end.
Q: Defensively, can you talk a little more specifically about what you've seen from this group? They have a reputation of being young and inconsistent, but from your perspective, what have you seen as some of their strengths?
HM: They do have a few younger players, but it seems to me like they play a pretty disciplined style no matter who's in there. They don't give up the big plays. They make you earn everything. And situationally speaking, they seem to be very good in the red zone [and] on third down, so it's tough to get points on the board against them.
Q: What have you come to expect from Coach Bill Belichick's defense?
HM: Pretty much just what I explained. They're going to be physical. They're going to be disciplined. They're going to be tough in situational football, which is red zone, third down, short yardage. So it's going to be very important for us if we get in the red zone to try to get touchdowns on the board. And that's always going to be a tough task against those guys.
Q: I know you're always focused on looking at teams defensively, but have you had a chance at all to see tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, and see what they've done as rookies at all?
HM: To be honest, I haven't had a chance to take a close look at them much - maybe when we've played some other teams when we watched the other team's defense. It seems to me like they're doing very well for rookies. I know they're contributing a lot to the offense both in the pass and running game, along with [Alge] Crumpler. So they've got a good set of tight ends over there.
Q: Do you find yourself picking up different things from other tight ends here and there, and looking at how they're effective and what things they do well?
HM: I think when you're watching other tight ends and you know they're having success, maybe against an opponent you're about to play against, you definitely try to watch and see what they do well and how they're doing it, and apply that to your game.
Q: It seems that the position has kind of evolved over the years, and different teams utilize their tight ends in different ways. In your career, how have you seen it evolve? Has it changed much in your mind?
HM: I feel like when I was coming into the league, teams were starting to use tight ends more and more in the passing game. I think when you look around the league, it seems like every team has a tight end that can stretch the field, can make plays in the passing game. So certainly, tight ends are becoming a big part of most offenses.
Q: As a tight end, do you find yourself wanting to be used in that way a little bit more glamorously? Is it appealing at all to want to be more of a receiving tight end?
HM: I enjoy my role. I'm asked to a little bit of everything, and that's fun for me to be able to be a part of the running game, to be able to be in the backfield a little bit, to be able to get out in the passing game as well. I enjoy all the aspects of it.
Q: With recent offensive line injuries, will your role change in the offense at all?
HM: I don't think it's going to change a whole lot. I think we're going to have some quality guys step in, and hopefully we can be business as usual. I'm sure I'll be used a little bit in all the phases of the game. I don't expect my role to change a whole lot.
Q: Can you talk about this rivalry in terms of the Patriots and Steelers and what that means to play a team like the Patriots in a game on Sunday night?
HM: Typically, New England is always one of the best in the league, especially in the AFC. We want to be one of the best teams in the AFC. Some years we're there; some years we haven't been. Even going back to before when I was here, I think it's always been a battle between the Patriots and the Steelers. At the halfway point this year, we're both 6-2, so it's an important game for both teams.
Q: What's it been like having Ben Roethlisberger back and working with him? You guys had success even before he came back, and then you've continued that with him. Can you talk about the adjustment of getting him back and working with him again?
HM: It's always good to have your starting quarterback back. The guys who played in his absence did a great job, and we all knew they would. On the same note, it's nice to have Ben back. I think he's been doing a great job, and I'm sure he's only going to do better and better.