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Steelers' Colbert would take character 'risk' again

| Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, 1:26 p.m.
Chaz Palla I Tribune-Reivew
General manager Kevin Colbert isn’t dropping any hints about whether any of the Steelers’ nearly two dozen free agents will return in 2014, saying there is still much shaking out to occur around the NFL before the start of free agency March 11.

In a year when fourth-round pick Alameda Ta'amu was arrested for leading police on a drunken driving chase through the South Side and fifth-round pick Chris Rainey was cut after police charged him with slapping his girlfriend, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said the organization won't shy away from players with character issues in the NFL Draft.

Colbert told TribLive Radio on Friday it would be unrealistic to enter the draft process eliminating players who are labeled as having character issues.

“Does that mean that you are not going to look at guys who have risk?” Colbert said. “No, I think that is unrealistic because a lot of the guys in the draft pool do have character challenges. It is up to us to assess that and determine if we want to take the risk. If we do, we have to be ready not only if the player does well but the consequences if it doesn't work.”

Colbert disagreed with the perception that the organization's decision to release Rainey but keep Ta'amu was based on talent alone.

“The only thing I can point to is our draft preparations,” Colbert said. “We do homework on players, and we will reject significant players. I am talking about first-round talents that (we) decide we don't want to assume the risk if they do have a character issue. But when we do assume the risk, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Obviously, we had two cases this year that didn't work for us, and that falls on me because I am the guy who said we can assume this risk.”

The Steelers took tackle Mike Adams off their draft board last year after he tested positive for marijuana during the NFL Scouting Combine. However, after Adams made a trip to Pittsburgh to talk to Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin, the Steelers put Adams back on their board, and they ended up drafting him in the second round.

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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