Share This Page

Tomlin makes changes to Steelers' lineup on both sides of ball

| Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, 1:06 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers defensive tackle Ziggy Hood plays against the Chiefs on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, at Heinz Field.

Ten starts and 11 sacks allowed into an NFL career that's still in its infancy, Steelers left tackle Mike Adams is getting sacked himself.

So is defensive end Ziggy Hood, who hasn't lived to his first-round draft pick expectations — and now isn't even on the first team.

The fallout from the Steelers' 0-4 start continued Tuesday as coach Mike Tomlin announced Adams and Hood were out as starters.

Either Kelvin Beachum or the newly added Levi Brown will replace Adams and former first-round pick Cam Heyward supplants Hood.

That Adams would be benched after allowing 3 12 sacks against the Vikings became evident as soon as the Steelers returned from London and dealt with Arizona for Brown, the No. 5 overall pick in 2007 for Arizona.

However, Adams still was listed as a starter on the official team depth chart as recently as Monday.

Tomlin changed that in a hurry, and he issued a challenge to Adams while doing so.

“I think it's going to have an opportunity to define him and his career,” Tomlin said of the former Ohio State star. “There are a lot of solid professional guys that have been through ups and downs, the emotions and so forth.

“The guys that show staying power and the guys that respond to it appropriately, that roll their sleeves up and go to work, (are) steady, solid players.”

Beachum probably will start Sunday against the Jets, as long as left guard Ramon Foster recovers from a left pectoral muscle strain. If he doesn't, Beachum could start at guard with Brown starting at tackle.

Ben Roethlisberger is one of Adams' biggest supporters, but even he recognizes it was time for a change after Vikings star Jared Allen punished Adams repeatedly in London.

“There comes a time where if you're not playing up to par, coach has to make a decision,” Roethlisberger said on his 93.7 radio show. “He's doing that with Mike. Maybe this is exactly what he needs to get to that next level, to be that high-profile guy.”

The Steelers have invested heavily in their offensive line, devoting two first-round picks (center Maurkice Pouncey and guard David DeCastro) and two second-rounders (Adams and Marcus Gilbert) to it since 2010.

Despite doing so, their running game is off to its worst start in franchise history with only a 58 yards per game average, and Roethlisberger is being forced repeatedly to abandon the pocket or to improvise because of a lack of pass protection.

Roethlisberger's 15 sacks are tied for the fourth most in the league, even though the Steelers have played one fewer game than most teams.

Even as the Steelers were drafting one offensive lineman after another, they expended first-round picks on defensive ends Hood (2009) and Heyward (2011). Now, one is taking over for the other.

Heyward, second on the team with nine quarterback pressures, “will play more and deservedly so,” Tomlin said. “To ensure that, we're going to put him in the starting lineup.”

Unlike Adams, who probably won't get on the field in the near future unless there are more injuries, Hood will get playing time as defensive end Brett Keisel continues to take some series off.

Hood, a starter for two-plus seasons, is in the final season of his five-year contract.

“I think he (Heyward) has been really solid, not taking anything away from Ziggy,” Tomlin said.

Except Tomlin is taking something away from Hood: His job.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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.