Steelers tackle Adams works to put difficult 2013 behind him

| Friday, May 30, 2014, 9:07 p.m.

Try to ask Mike Adams about last season. Ask the Steelers offensive lineman about the incident on the South Side a year ago Sunday that resulted in him getting stabbed in the stomach and arm and needing surgery.

Ask him about getting benched after allowing 3 12 sacks in a Week 4 game.

Ask him about having to defend his character during the trial related to his stabbing that ended in three men being found not guilty of assault. One of them now is suing Adams in a civil case.

Go ahead and ask. It will result in a version of the same answer every time.

“I am really not thinking about that at all. I am trying focus on this year,” Adams said after one of the Steelers' organized team activities (OTAs) this week. “I am not worried about that stuff now. I am focusing on this year, this year's team, this year's goals.”

Adams can't wait to put a 2013 season behind him, and who can blame him?

Adams went from a second-round pick that was penciled in as the starting left tackle to being humiliated a month into the season after being benched in favor of Kelvin Beachum, an undersized tackle drafted almost 200 picks later than Adams a year earlier.

“Overall I think it went pretty bad (last year),” Adams said. “It was not where I wanted it at all.”

His season bottomed out during a Week 4 game against Minnesota in which Adams allowed Jared Allen to harass Ben Roethlisberger in a 34-27 loss.

A few days later, the Steelers traded for Levi Brown. A couple days after that, Adams was demoted to third string and was inactive for a game against the New York Jets.

The left tackle of the future just weeks before was relegated to a blocking tight end in the “jumbo” package for most of the rest of the season.

“I think it was a learning experience for him a little bit because he had to figure out what was going on,” guard Ramon Foster said. “Him still being a young guy, he had to come to a realization of what really happened. He caught onto it, and it was a big offseason for him, and he has changed in a good way.”

Foster also offered Adams advice related to off-field issues.

“I told him whatever he is going through, be you through the whole situation,” Foster said. “I think that is the best thing for him. Whatever changes he is going through, and he is going through one, I told him to be happy through it and be him through it. Don't try to be something that he is not.”

Adams is trying to regain the form that allowed him to start six games as a rookie and secure the starting left tackle spot during training camp a year later.

Right now he's behind Beachum waiting for an opportunity.

“I am out here competing for a job and trying to get better,” Adams said. “Wherever they need me. I just want to come out and play.”

It could come this year.

The Steelers put Adams at first-team right tackle Thursday in place of Marcus Gilbert, but Adams would say only, “I was just circling through a little bit.”

Foster expects Adams to compete for playing time because “his pride will force him to.” Where that position might be — right or left tackle — still is unknown, but recent injury history along the offensive line says an opportunity will come.

Will what Adams went through during the past year make him stronger?

“I am not even worried about it. … We will see,” Adams said. “We will see when it gets down to the dog days of camp and things like that when there is a little more adversity set in the way. That's who you find out who you are.”

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