Ladarius Green: 'Ben has been throwing me open'


All season Ben Roethlisberger has searched for a second fiddle to Antonio Brown.

First, it looked like Eli Rogers might be the guy. Then Sammie Coates flashed. Still, none could be that consistent downfield complement to Brown the Pittsburgh Steelers lost when Martavis Bryant was suspended for the year.

Might tight end Ladarius Green be the answer?

After missing the first eight games due to injury, Green has displayed big-play ability the past two weeks. Green caught passes of 35 and 32 yards in Week 12, then destroyed the Giants on Sunday, going for six catches, 110 yards and a touchdown, including receptions of 37 yards, 33 yards and 20 yards.

After the first 100-yard game of his five-year career, Green was asked whether he was surprised by how wide open he's been the past two weeks.

"Yes. And at the same time, Ben has been throwing me open. He's put the ball where nobody can be around it except for me," Green said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "So like I said earlier, he makes it easier for me, as well as A.B. (Antonio Brown) and Le'Veon (Bell). They draw so much attention that it makes it easier for everybody else."

As Green continues to pile up yards, teams will attempt to adjust, but in the Steelers' offense, defenses can't scheme to stop him.

"I really don't think so, because everybody knows who A.B. is," he said. 'He's such a great and dynamic player that you can't game plan for somebody else when he's out there. As well as Le'Veon and other receivers that have been doing well, too. So we're just going to have to see how teams play us from now on and just have to go with the flow of it."

Green's correct that defenses won't take coverage or attention away from Bell and Brown to try and slow down a tight end with one career 100-yard game. Since 1970, no Steelers tight end has ever had 100-plus receiving yards in consecutive games. 

On Sunday, Green did most of his damage from the slot, where he earned 90 of his 110 receiving yards, per Next Gen Stats. 

The speed and field-stretching ability of the athletic tight end makes him the perfect fit for the Steelers' offense. With Bryant out, Big Ben hasn't had a consistent deep threat to open up the offense. The Steelers rank outside the top 10 in both scoring offense (12th) and total yards (11th) this season after finishing inside the top 10 in both categories in each of the last two years.

If Green consistently wins down the seam, an already potent offense becomes lethal as the playoffs approach.