Steelers' tight end Green practicing this week after injury
PITTSBURGH (AP) Steelers tight end Ladarius Green is finally starting to roll with his new team after seven months sidelined with injury.
Now comes a three week wait to determine whether Pittsburgh will put him on the 53-man roster.
Green signed a four-year, $20 million contract as an unrestricted free agent in March, a rare splurge on the open market for the typically conservative Steelers, who lost veteran Heath Miller to retirement.
But Green has been sidelined for seven months. He didn't take part in spring organized team activities or mini-camp because of offseason ankle surgery and opened training camp and the regular season on the physically unable to perform list. Green, who remains on the PUP list, practiced fully with the team for the first time on Tuesday and again on Wednesday.
''I still feel a little stiff and a little rusty, but it's just good to be out there,'' Green said. ''I was excited and a little bit nervous, but they've been helping and supporting me the whole time. It was good to show them what I can do.''
Doctors repaired a tendon and inserted plates into Green's ankle during the offseason surgery. Green previously said jumping on the ankle was one of the final hurdles needed to return, but reported no problems through two days of practice.
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley was more impressed with Green's mental preparation.
''Just from the first couple practices, the mental side is not an issue, but we have to get him in pads and see where he is,'' Haley said. ''From this point, it's positive and showed a lot about his character and staying sharp mentally.''
It wasn't hard for Green, who plans to stick around Pittsburgh during the team's bye and put in extra work.
''When you're sitting on the sideline for that long, you don't have a choice, but to be mentally sharp,'' Green said.
Green spent four seasons in San Diego and, in 2015, set single-season career highs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns behind All-Pro Antonio Gates. Green's unique speed gives the Steelers a downfield weapon that can create matchup nightmares for opposing defenses. His 6-foot-6 frame could make him just as effective in the red zone.
''He's a big-bodied guy that can run,'' Haley said. ''He can take short passes and turn them into big plays. When you have a big target to throw to, that knows how to get open, that adds one more weapon to the mix that we can use to create matchups in the pass game.''
The Steelers could activate Green for their next game Nov. 6 at Baltimore or the following two weeks against Dallas or Cleveland.
For now, Green is just excited to be on the field again.
''It's always different running routes by yourself on the side to when you actually get out there on the field with the team,'' Green said. ''It was good to be out there.''
NOTES: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who worked out with Green for the first time on Tuesday, was a limited participant again during Wednesday's practice. Roethlisberger threw passes during individual work nine days after surgery on his left knee. ... Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward participated in individual drills Wednesday and also ran to test his injured hamstring.
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