Starks awaits another chance in NFL
By Mark Kaboly
Published: Saturday, May 19, 2012, 12:30 a.m.
When the Steelers decided to move Willie Colon to left guard and keep Marcus Gilbert at right tackle, the one person they didn't have in mind to fill the void at left tackle was Max Starks.
The veteran free agent has yet to be contacted by the Steelers, seemingly further solidifying the team's intentions of giving rookie second-round pick Mike Adams every opportunity of winning the left tackle job in training camp.
“I have not had contact with management or anybody like that,” Starks said Friday while on his way to rehab his surgically repaired knee in Phoenix. “I guess eventually I will hear something from them … or maybe not.”
The Steelers seem intent on revamping their offensive line, even if that means doing something they rarely do: Start rookie offensive linemen.
The Steelers have started a rookie up front to open the season three times since the 1970 merger — Tom Ricketts in 1989, Marvel Smith in 2000 and Maurkice Pouncey in 2010.
They could have two — Adams and first-round pick David DeCastro — in the starting lineup Week 1 in Denver.
The Steelers plan to have Adams, Jonathan Scott and Trai Essex battle for the starting left tackle spot during camp.
“As for myself, I don't see (me being a part of that battle) unless there is something I don't know,” Starks said.
Starks likely won't be ready for the start of training camp anyway.
It's been about four months since Dr. James Bradley repaired the ACL Starks tore in his right knee during the wild-card playoff loss to Denver.
“I am pretty good, actually,” Starks said. “I am starting lateral work movement with my ACL, and everything is moving along nicely.”
Starks has a follow-up visit with Bradley soon during which he will get a better grasp on how far along he is. An ACL tear typically carries a nine-month recovery. With that time frame, Starks would be ready close to opening week.
“It would be pushing it to be in training camp,” Starks said. “It is not unfeasible. Athletes push it to be ready in six months, but my mindset is to be ready to play by Week 1. That's a realistic goal for me.”
If Adams doesn't catch on quickly, the Steelers could call on Starks like they did last season.
Starks was cut two days before training camp in a salary dump. After struggling up front during the first month, the Steelers signed Starks heading into Week 5. Starks started the remaining nine games at left tackle and played well.
Starks doesn't know whether, if called upon again, he could replicate last season's performance, mostly because of having a new offensive coordinator in Todd Haley.
“I would need a week or so to get the plays down and the terminology,” Starks said. “It would be a different situation even coming back to the Steelers. I just want to get healthy and play for somebody. I have the mindset of rehabbing and make sure my knee is in the best possible shape and be ready to go when someone calls.”
As for the Steelers making that call?
“If the situation arises, it is something that I would definitely be interested in,” Starks said.
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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