LATROBE, Penn. -- The Pittsburgh Steelers made just one splashy -- and much-needed -- free agent signing this past offseason, tight end Ladarius Green. They have yet to see him in their offense, though, and a member of the organization, informed of the player's health, said it has nothing to do with the tight end's surgically-repaired ankle -- but is instead an issue with recurring headaches.
Green signed a four-year, $20-million contract in March, which included a $4.75 million signing bonus, but he has yet to practice.
His ankle surgery in January ostensibly kept him out of spring practices and minicamp and he's spent the entirety of training camp on the physically unable to perform list. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has maintained that Green's sustained absence from the field is not entirely unexpected, and he reiterated that Wednesday, as he readied his team for its preseason opener Friday against the Lions.
"He's progressing, but we really thought it would be touch-and-go up to this point," Tomlin said. "The (ankle) surgery was not a routine cleanup, so we knew it would be a significant amount of time."
Green's agent, Adisa Bakari, however, said Green's "ankle is fine," on Wednesday night. Bakara would not comment on what is ultimately keeping Green sidelined, and his client reportedly has been seen running sprints at St. Vincent's College, while his teammates practice.
Green complained of headaches after suffering two concussions in two weeks last September with the Chargers, according to a report in the San Diego Union-Tribune. Those were his second and third concussions in less than one calendar year. Green sat out one game last season due to a concussion, while ankle issues sidelined him for two others. A concussion also caused Green to miss one game during the 2014 season.
Green was expected to help alleviate the hole left at tight end after the retirement of Heath Miller. It was Miller who was Ben Roethlisberger's security blanket, one of his most dependable targets -- and blockers -- for 11 seasons. Miller missed only eight games in those 11 years, and retired as the Steelers' tight end with the most all-time receiving yards, receptions and touchdowns.