The injury bug has certainly taken its toll once again on the Pittsburgh Steelers and this past week it was rookie tackle Mike Adams and linebacker LaMarr Woodley that were dinged up enough in the loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday to have their names added to the list.
Adams was ruled out by head coach Mike Tomlin on Tuesday with an ankle injury , while Woodley was termed doubtful with an ankle injury. While the prospects look good that safety Troy Polamalu, wide receiver Antonio Brown, and wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery will all be back in uniform for the Sunday game against the Baltimore Ravens, none of them are guarantees right now.
Outside of second-year tackle Marcus Gilbert, who injured an ankle tendon way back in Week 6 against the Tennessee Titans, the Steelers offensive line has been fairly healthy this year up until this past Sunday. Left guard Willie Colon missed the Browns game with a knee injury after popping up on the Friday injury report, but he should be back this weekend against the Ravens.
As healthy as the Steelers offensive line has been this season compared to the last few previous years, only one starter has managed to play every offensive snap. That starter is left tackle Max Starks. In fact, Starks is the only offensive player on the Steelers that has accomplished that can say that.
Starks not only hasn\’t missed a play, he has played above the line since getting off to a rough start in the first two games of the season. Over the course of the last 6 games the veteran tackle has unofficially allowed just 2 sacks, 4 quarterback hits, and 8 hurries. That\’s not bad considering that he has passed blocked 236 times over the course of those 6 games. That works out to a demerit once every 17 pass blocks. Superb? No. Above the line? Yes.
After the 2011 season ended Starks was once again a free agent. Instead of having to fight back from a neck injury like he did the previous offseason, Starks was recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the loss to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Wild Card game. The Steelers didn\’t decide to sign him until the middle of July, when he was cleared by the doctors. Once signed, Starks started training camp on the PUP list and didn\’t see his first preseason action until the third game against the Buffalo Bills.
With Gilbert now on the injured reserve list as of Monday, and Adams likely to now be sidelined a few games, you can see that the Steelers decision to bring Starks back was a good one. Had they not, they would be tackle poor beyond belief right now. Really? Who would be your left tackle right now? Ramon Foster? Colon? Rookie Kelvin Beachum?
Starks has not only been a bargain this year, he has been a durable one up until this point. Hopefully it stays that way for him, because of he goes down, the chances of the Steelers making the playoffs go down with him.
Drink your milk and take your vitamins, Max, we need you.