Rookie linemen share struggles
PHILADELPHIA — Just as much as anybody else, Mike Tomlin was curious to see how rookie offensive linemen David DeCastro and Mike Adams would fare in their first game action.
“We'll see more about them, and we'll get to know more about them Thursday night,” Tomlin said this week.
Oh, did he ever, especially Adams.
The left tackle struggled during his professional debut Thursday night in the Steelers' 24-23 preseason loss to the Eagles, allowing 2 1⁄2 sacks in a span of nine plays during the first quarter.
Adams allowed Ben Roethlisberger to be sacked twice during the quarterback's 15 first-quarter plays before leaving at the end of the stanza with a knee injury he suffered when he tried to pick up a fumble after a sack. The injury isn't expected to be long-term concern.
“I thought (Adams and DeCastro) represented themselves well, at times, at least from an assignment standpoint,” Tomlin said. “They were beat physically some, but that's life in the National Football League. I am sure they will take the lessons learned in that stadium tonight and build upon it.”
It was an all-too-familiar sight for Roethlisberger, who was sacked eight times the last time he played at Lincoln Financial Field in 2008.
Veteran Trai Essex replaced Adams, but Essex isn't expected to be the long-term solution at left tackle.
The Steelers signed veteran Max Starks a week before training camp as insurance. Starks still is recovering from January knee surgery and was placed on the physically unable to perform list at the beginning of camp. He is expected to resume practicing within a week.
Adams was the Steelers' second-round pick in April's draft out of Ohio State. He was forced to miss most of the offseason practices because of Ohio State's quarter system — he had to finish school — and was noticeably behind for the start of camp.
Adams was running mostly with the second team during the first two weeks of training camp before moving to the first team earlier this week. The lack of reps against the first team showed against the Eagles.
“He made a couple of rookie mistakes; everybody gets beat,” left guard Ramon Foster said. “But he bounced back, and he wasn't showing that it was affecting him too much.”
Adams allowed a sack on the seventh play of the game when Phillip Hunt got the edge and beat him off the corner to bring down Roethlisberger.
Four plays later, miscommunication between Adams and Foster allowed Darryl Tapp to split them and share a sack of Roethlisberger with Brian Rolle.
“It's just miscommunication,” Foster said. “We have to stay on our angles. It wasn't anything more than staying on our angles.”
On the first play of the Steelers' second offensive series, Adams allowed Hunt to race around him again and slap the ball out of Byron Leftwich's hand.
First-round pick DeCastro fared better but struggled at times.
“It's football, like I have been saying all along,” DeCastro. “I did some good, did some bad. I am going to try to clean it up and learn from the bad things and don't look too much into the good things.”
DeCastro got plenty of help from center Maurkice Pouncey early and was left free on other occasions.
DeCastro made a mental error when he was late helping Essex, which resulted in a sack by Brandon Graham. Later, DeCastro was pushed a couple of yards into the backfield by Kendricks during a second-and-goal that resulted in a short gain by Baron Batch.
Roethlisberger was encouraged by the rookie offensive linemen.
“It's hard for me because I am not watching them, but by the look in their eyes, it looked like they were doing well,” Roethlisberger said.
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.