Rookie lineman Adams endures shaky debut
Mike Adams might have been close to learning all about The Look.
Maybe NFL quarterbacks don't do it intentionally after being sacked, preferring not to single out a teammate. But that hasn't prevented many of them from glaring in disgust at an offensive lineman after being dumped on his backside.
Steelers offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert expects Adams, the rookie left tackle, to enjoy a lengthy career despite a preseason debut in which he gave up 2½ sacks in a span of nine plays Thursday against the Eagles. Even worse, Adams sprained his right knee, thus creating yet another Steelers shuffle along the offensive line — the latest but likely not the last this season.
“It creates situations,” still-healing left tackle Max Starks said. “Obviously we've been known for the last two years for shuffling guys around and having position flexibility.”
With a full week ahead of them before Sunday's preseason game against the Colts at Heinz Field, the Steelers are working with Gilbert, who started camp at right tackle, at left tackle. Left guard Willie Colon, center Maurkice Pouncey and right guard David DeCastro are unchanged, but Ramon Foster — who had been competing with DeCastro — is at right tackle. The Steelers were off Monday but will return to practice Tuesday in Latrobe.
When Adams returns within the next two weeks, Gilbert expects him to go into full-correction mode. Gilbert had a rough debut a season ago, yet bounced back to make it through a mostly stare-free season protecting Ben Roethlisberger.
“My first game, my first start wasn't pretty, neither. You just have to learn from it, correct the mistakes, and we know he can do that,” Gilbert said. “That's why we brought him in. He's a very capable guy. I think in the game he did a lot of good; he just gave up those sacks. He also did some impressive things that people don't realize because the sacks obviously stand out.”
Adams didn't need to watch a game video — or to look into Big Ben's eyes — to know what he did wrong.
“I kind of put myself in a bad position on some plays,” Adams said. “But it's nothing that can't be fixed. … It was a good learning experience, and it was great to have a chance to get out there.”
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley knew there would be a learning curve involved when rookies Adams and DeCastro, their top two draft picks, were plugged into the offensive line at the start of camp. If Haley was discouraged by their debut, he isn't showing it.
The Steelers made DeCastro their first-round pick with the intent of starting him immediately and, unless he experiences unforeseen problems in the final three preseason games, he will start against the Broncos on Sept. 9.
“David, I thought, did some good things in the run and pass game and had a pretty solid first night,” Haley said. “Again, encouraging signs from both guys.”
What DeCastro is quickly learning is that the offensive line is regularly in a state of fluidity. There should be more stability once Starks is ready to return after having surgery in January to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Starks believes he could be back by the end of August.
“We're shuffling guys around with injuries and making sure we get our evaluations right,” Haley said. “It is a fluid situation across the front, and the good thing is we've got good competition. We just need everybody there and healthy as much as we can.”
Once Adams returns, Gilbert can shift back to right tackle and Starks and Adams can compete at left tackle, with Foster available to fill in at nearly any position.
“Where I'm at right now I'm comfortable and all the other guys are comfortable shuffling around,” said Gilbert, who prefers left tackle to right tackle. “Come game time, we'll see where everybody is at.”
Maybe by then, none of the linemen will be wary of making eye contact with the quarterback.
Note: The Steelers signed veteran free agent tight end Justin Peelle to a one-year deal and placed fullback/tight end David Johnson on the waived/injured list.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Undersized Beachum quietly excels at 1 of game’s pivotal positions
- Steelers notebook: Polamalu, Taylor unlikely to play, Harrison ‘ready’
- Penguins’ defensive depth proves valuable
- Veteran tight end Miller’s blocking skill crucial to success to Steelers running game
- Steelers must be creative in providing snaps for linebackers
- Steelers notebook: Chiefs pass rush to test Steelers
- Steelers, young and old, thirst for opportunity to reach the postseason
- Steelers lookahead: Chiefs’ Charles injured but remains dangerous threat
- Steelers notebook: Brown leads WRs in Pro Bowl voting, Bell 2nd at RB
- QB Smith is chief concern for Steelers’ defense
- Steelers hold off the Falcons to keep moving in AFC North chase