Barring any setbacks, Steelers tight end Heath Miller will play his first game of the season Sunday night against the Bears.
Miller went through another full practice Friday and is officially listed as probable. Miller was noncommittal about his playing status after practice, but a source said Miller might not only be in line to play but also could be in the starting lineup.
"I'm excited," Miller said. "It's been a long time sitting and watching. I'm close to the end now. It's kind of the hardest part, I guess, figuring out when you're ready to go. I'm getting close and I know it's sooner rather than later."
Miller was injured in Week 16 last season and had reconstructive knee surgery in January. He was limited in training camp but was activated to the 53-man roster before the opener against Tennessee, prompting speculation that he would be ready to play early in the season.
Miller's return is a big lift for the Steelers, who have scored just 19 points in the first two games of the season. Miller was the team MVP last season after leading the offense with 71 receptions and a career-high 816 receiving yards.
Miller was not sure if he would be able to play a full game or be eased back in.
"I've never been through this type of injury when I missed an extended period of time," he said. "I'm not sure how my body is going to react. It's hard to simulate playing football when you're not playing football. Obviously, I missed a lot of football to this point. We'll kind of play it by ear."
Bell not ruled out
Rookie running back Le'Veon Bell made rapid progress with his injured foot this week and is officially listed as questionable. Bell, who injured his foot in the second preseason game against Washington, did not dress the first two weeks.
"I'm feeling good," Bell said. "My foot felt amazing today. The question is how I'll feel tomorrow."
Bell went through a full practice for a second consecutive day. He said his foot was sore beforehand, but his practice went better than anticipated.
"I exceeded what I thought I'd be able to do today," he said.
The only player ruled out for Sunday is Cortez Allen (ankle), who will not play for a second consecutive week.
Cornerback Curtis Brown (illness), outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (heel), defensive end Brett Keisel (calf) and nose tackle Steve McLendon (hamstring) are listed as probable.
Ray Fittipaldo: email@example.com and Twitter @rayfitt1. First Published September 21, 2013 4:00 AM