Steelers lineman Adams gets 2nd chance to start
It was a crossroads in Mike Adams' career, and he knew it.
Even though Adams was only four games into his career as a Steelers starting left tackle, he was embarrassed, humbled and then benched within a couple of days of each other.
Jared Allen made him look foolish in a 34-27 loss to Minnesota in London, capping a stretch that saw Adams allow four sacks of Ben Roethlisberger, six more hits and 13 hurries.
The former second-round draft pick was benched in favor of seventh-rounder Kelvin Beachum.
“How you handle adversity is really the key thing,” offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. “You can handle it a couple different ways, and he's chosen to handle it in a positive manner, and he has pushed harder to get better knowing that his opportunity would come up again.”
That opportunity arrives Sunday, when the Steelers host Miami at Heinz Field. With Beachum nursing a knee injury, Adams will step into the starting lineup for the first time in more than two months.
“He understands that he has to focus more,” guard Ramon Foster said. “It humbled him and brought him back to square one on how to work. When you have been humbled, you have realized what happened, and he did because he lost his starting position.”
Foster said he did not console Adams during his benching.
“If I went over there and babied him and told him everything would be OK, then I wouldn't see the true side of him when he was faced with adversity,” Foster said.
Adams immediately began working to improve his technique, whether it was with his hands or feet.
“I just didn't play well,” said Adams, who refused to blame an offseason stabbing incident in the South Side as a reason for his poor play. “But you just can't go in the tank when things don't go right.”
Adams remained an active part of the game plan, playing about 20 snaps per game as an extra tackle/tight end.
“You can't really worry if it is difficult on you,” Adams said. “You have to come to work and try to get better and do what you need to do. It has been a good thing. Now it is time to see if I can put it together.”
Foster added: “You definitely see a change in how he is approaching it.”
Beachum has played well as part of an offensive line that hasn't allowed a sack in back-to-back games for the first time in more than a decade.
But now it's back to Adams, who will see a familiar site across from him Sunday: a speedy, sack-happy defensive end who has a similar skill set as Allen in Olivier Vernon.
“I think it is pretty clear,” Adams said, “that I want to show them that I deserve to be in there.”
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.
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