The bye week came at a good time for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
With a long list of injuries, the Steelers used their four days off last Thursday-Sunday to heal up and try to forget losing their last two games to the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.
However, Ladarius Green wasn’t quite so sure he wanted any time off. The tight end finally got on the practice field this year last Tuesday and Wednesday after being slow to recover from offseason ankle surgery and beginning the season on the physically unable to perform list.
Green could be activated in time to play Sunday when the Steelers (4-3) visit the Baltimore Ravens (3-4) in a key AFC Central lead. The division-leading Steelers hold a slim lead over the Cincinnati Bengals (3-3-1) and Ravens.
“It felt good to be back out there,” Green said. “I was out there for all of practice. It’s a real relief. It’s been so long. The guys welcomed me back. It was just fun. I was excited, a little bit nervous. It was good to be out there with the fellas. It was good to go out there and work with those guys.
“There is still a lot of stuff I have to work on. I still feel a little bit stiff, a little bit rusty but it was good to go out there and show them I could do something.”
Green was the Steelers’ major offseason acquisition. They signed him to a four-year, $20-million contract, $475,000 of which was guaranteed, following the retirement of 11-year veteran Heath Miller, who set all the major franchise receiving records for a tight end.
Green caught passes from all three quarterbacks. In addition to getting acclimated to working with Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones and Zach Mettenberger, Green also was pleased that he could jump without feeling pain in the ankle.
“Hopefully it stays that way the rest of the season,” he said. I had to jump off it and trust it and it felt good.”
Green had put plenty of physical work during his rehab to get to this point. However, he said the mental side of sitting out has been just as tough, particularly joining a new team after spending the first four years of his career with the San Diego Chargers.
However, Green said his teammates have made him feel welcomed.
“It was hard but the guys accepted me,” he said. “They talked to me, stayed with me. That helped a lot. Some days I didn’t want to come in, some days I didn’t want to be around it. But I love this and that got me through it.”
Rookie defensive back Sean Davis went up against Green in practice and was impressed.
“He looked like he should be ready to go for us,” Davis said. “He looks good. He looks like he’s ready to play, which is helpful.”
The Steelers have gotten good production from their others three tight ends this season. Jesse James, who has started all seven games, has 22 receptions for 159 yards and three touchdowns while Xavier Grimble has eight catches for 83 yards and one score, and David Johnson has three catches for 36 yards.
However, the Steelers signed Green to be the starter and his teammates are looking forward to seeing him in game action.
“We heard all the talk,” center Maurkice Pouncey said. “I worked out with a couple guys that played with him and they said a lot of good things about him but to actually see it was awesome.
“The way he caught the ball, the way he came out of routes, even for his first practices, I know he felt rusty and a little bit slower but all of us liked it.”