This is a photo of Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL football team. This image reflects the Pittsburgh Steelers active roster as of Tuesday, June 16, 2015. (AP Photo)

Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger still can’t quite wrap his mind around the fact that he and the rest of the Pittsburgh Steelers are at training camp and Heath Miller is nowhere to be found.

For almost all of Roethlisberger’s years as an NFL quarterback, he knew he could rely on his talented tight end to find those seams in the secondary, to make the clutch catches, to keep the chains moving.

Now, with Miller having retired, Roethlisberger needs to look elsewhere for dependability and production from the tight end spot.

“That’s the biggest thing for me, being here 13 years and 12 of them with Heath Miller, a guy that I love to death,” Roethlisberger told Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan at the Steelers’ camp in Latrobe, Pa. “To not see him out here and still tough. It hasn’t really sunk in yet. So to not have him out here but to have other tight ends that are stepping up, doing some different things — Jesse James, X-man (Xavier Grimble), DJ (David Johnson) — stretching the field a little bit.

“It’s different, but it’s good. I told them the other night, ‘Listen, don’t try and be Heath Miller, because you’re not going to be Heath. Don’t try and fill those shoes. Be the best Jesse and best X, best you can be.'”

NFL Training Camp Tour: Tomlin: Hitting in Steelers’ camp makes evaluation ‘crystal clear’

AAAA Mike Tomlin

Mike Tomlin with Jim Miller

Plain and simple, Mike Tomlin wants hitters — and players who can withstand hits — on his Pittsburgh Steelers roster.

It stands to reason, then, that the best way to figure out who those players are is to do as much hitting in training camp as the rules of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement will allow.

And the Steelers are as aggressive in that area as any team in the league.

“It’s two things for us,” Tomlin said of his emphasis on contact to Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan at the Steelers’ camp in Latrobe, Pa. “We believe that that’s an element of our game that can be an asset, and if it’s going to be that, we can’t talk about it. We’ve got to do it. And, secondly, I think it aids in the evaluation process. We’ve got 90 guys out here, many of them are new. It eliminates some of the speculation in evaluation when you’re playing at the level of intensity that we are and you’re tackling.

“You get a back and a safety in the hole. You’re not wondering whether the back can make him miss or wondering whether the safety can make the tackle. You’re seeing what’s happening. And it’s making the evaluation process more crystal clear for us.”

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