Tackle Max Starks, who is currently a Pittsburgh Steelers unrestricted free agent, has been in Florida this week attending the NFLPA meetings and was interviewed Friday on SiriusXM NFL Radio by Alex Marvez and Jim Miller.
According to Marvez, Starks looks to be physically in great shape after having surgery in mid January to repair a torn ACL in his right knee that he suffered in the AFC Wild Card game against the Denver Broncos. During the interview Starks was asked if there was a potential that he would return to the Steelers in 2012 and he replied, “I mean it\’s a potential. One of the biggest things is that for myself, there\’s been expressed interest, but once again it all stems off of my ACL recovery. I think I\’ll be back there to do an evaluation with the doctors and the coaches and talk to them. It\’s my intent that I have the opportunity to go back there, but I know the reality is that I\’m not going to get a legitimate look until June for my knee. When I can actually run off of the ACL injury and that will really determine what team I go to. I say us and ours when I\’m talking about the Steelers, speaking from that past tense, but that\’s been my whole entire career was eight years there, so that\’s all I know. I can\’t really speak on everybody else and saying in generalizations about being a lineman, so I think that\’s one of the biggest things is that you know it\’s going to be evaluated in June/July and you know maybe I get the opportunity or maybe I go somewhere new and help that team.”
The line of questioning then moved to Marcus Gilbert, who figures to take over at left tackle for the Steelers in 2012. Starks was asked if he thought Gilbert was ready and he replied, “I think after this year he\’s had the opportunity to kind of mature into the NFL. I think that\’s been one of the biggest things when you become a rookie because you just get infused with all of this information like a flood gate opening up in front of you. Admittedly he had some issues early on transitioning and learning what it was to be a professional athlete but I think he has all the capabilities and the abilities to do that. I think he\’s a very talented athlete and he has that skill level that you want to look at putting at a left tackle position. He\’s athletic, he has long arms and he\’s kind of a physical player, so you want that type of combination going into left tackle. I think he had a year under his belt playing at the right tackle position mainly to get used to that and get used to the speed, get used to the meeting process, Understanding the offensive plays and I think that was the biggest thing is that I think he got inundated with too much information up front and then just got thrown into the fire, like, hey you\’ve got to play and you\’ve got to play right now. I think now that he\’s had that opportunity, I think he has the ability to do that and I feel confident in him.”
Starks remains a consummate professional and is always very forthcoming in his interviews. It is obvious that he might be pushing it to be ready by the start of training camp, as that would be just over 6 months since his surgery took place. I suspect the Steelers will keep in close contact with him throughout the summer, but I think he is a long shot to be re-signed before the team reports to Latrobe. The Steelers could certainly use experienced depth at the tackle position behind Gilbert and Willie Colon, but they could choose to go younger instead and add a tackle at some point in the upcoming draft. Should Starks not return and start the season unsigned, he would be a perfect fall back option for the Steelers in case injury strikes Gilbert or Colon.