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Four downs: Steelers retain control of injured offensive lineman Adams

| Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, 10:09 p.m.

Steelers

CONTROL OF ADAMS

Tackle Mike Adams' season is over because the Steelers did not take him off the Reserve/PUP list two weeks ago with a back injury. But his time with the team likely will not be over despite being in the final year of his rookie contract because of a long-standing, but obscure collective bargaining agreement stipulation. Adams was placed on the physically unable to perform list before the start of training camp because of a chronic back injury that had been surgically repaired before camp. At the time, coach Mike Tomlin said Adams would be out four weeks. Adams never returned to the active roster and wasn't removed from the PUP list (the deadline was Nov. 25) meaning his 2015 will be tolled. The CBA states that: (“a player's) contract will not be tolled for the period he is on PUP, except in the last year of his contract, when the player's contract will be tolled if he still is physically unable to perform his football services as of the sixth regular-season game.” The Steelers confirmed the CBA stipulation. Therefore, Adams will be under contract for 2016 with the Steelers at the same salary he made in 2015 — $873,225. The Steelers could part ways with Adams during the offseason, but that wouldn't make much sense knowing the lack of depth the Steelers have at the tackle position.

Tackles Contract expires

Marcus Gilbert 2019

Micah Hatchie* 2017

Alejandro Villanueva 2016

Byron Stingily 2015

Kelvin Beachum* 2015

* — Injured reserve

AFC NORTH

FREE AT LAST

The Bengals are the class of the AFC North and could be the best team in the NFL. However, it might be now or never for them. The Bengals have 17 impending free agents at season's end, which is the NFL norm. However, seven of those are starters, including four-fifths of their secondary in cornerbacks Leon Hall and Adam Jones and safeties Reggie Nelson and George Iloka.

NFL

CAN'T DO WITHOUT

There are some tough individuals in the NFL, but none are tougher than offensive linemen. Through 12 games, 40 players in the league have played all of their team's snaps, and 38 are offensive lineman. The others are quarterback Blake Bortles and Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who is the only defensive player in that group.

Fantasy focus

START, SIT, SLEEP

Who to start: QB Tyrod Taylor, Bills: Taylor has put up solid numbers the past two weeks against good defenses, and gets one of the worst in the Eagles.

Who to bench: QB Matt Ryan, Falcons: Ryan has thrown almost as many touchdowns (eight) as interceptions (seven) during Atlanta's four-game losing streak.

Who is a sleeper play: RB Shaun Draughn, 49ers: Draughn has reached double-digit carries in each of his past four games, and it's never a bad bet to play a RB against the Browns.

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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