The Pittsburgh Steelers wrapped up their mandatory mini-camp on Thursday and General Manager Kevin Colbert joined 105.9 The X afterwards to answer several questions.
One of the questions that Colbert was asked pertained to free agent tackle Max Starks, who continues to rehab his surgically repaired right knee after tearing his ACL in the AFC Wild Card Game against the Denver Broncos. Colbert was specifically asked if Starks was still considered as an option in 2012 as a backup. "Yeah, we\'ve communicated with Max. He was in here about a month ago to get examined by our doctors," said Colbert. "He knows that it\'s a possibility that we could bring him back, and first and foremost for Max and his career, he has to make sure that he\'s healthy. And that was our message to him is \'Max, there\'s no hurry for you to come back and to do this right away. We can start and see where things go.\' We\'ll continue to be in touch with him throughout the spring."
From the sound of things, Colbert and the coaching staff seem dead set on first seeing how things go with second round draft pick Mike Adams early on in training camp. Adams hit the field for the first time since rookie camp this week after missing all of the OTA sessions because of NFL rules that prevented him practicing until his school obligations were completed. The Steelers hope that the Ohio State product can win the starting left tackle spot outright.
Marcus Gilbert also had his share of reps with the first team over the course of the last four weeks just in case Adams does not pan out early on. Also receiving reps at left tackle the last month were Jonathan Scott and Trai Essex, but neither of the two would figure to be an option to be left side starters. At this point it continues to seem like it will be either Adams or Gilbert that will man the blindside of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Starks could possibly be an option to be signed a couple weeks into camp if he is healthy and cleared by the doctors. The former third round draft pick updated his status on Twitter Thursday to say that today was his first day working on cutting drills in cleats. He claims that he getting closer to being game ready. Will he be ready for the start of camp? Hard to say right now, but even if he was close, he could be signed and placed on the ACTIVE PUP list if he is on the roster before the start of camp. That scenario would at least allow him to learn the offense initially. The only problem with that idea is that players are not normally signed unless they are first cleared medically. Tight end Jake Ballard was an exception to the norm after being signed off waivers by the New England Patriots this past week despite having a long recovery ahead him.
Roethlisberger broke out the No. 78 jersey last Thursday in honor of Starks and said at that time he thinks his close friend and draft classmate was close to being healthy. The veteran signal caller was asked specifically about Starks being a potential emergency option at tackle this upcoming season. "I would think so," said Roethlisberger. "I think the question is is he healthy? And I think he is from what I’ve heard and from what I’ve seen from him. So I think he would be a guy that if we need to we could get him back."
So basically we know now that on top of Starks wanting to come back and Roethlisberger wanting him back, that Colbert is also open to bringing him back.