By Matthew Marczi
Though Mike Adams has not started a game along the offensive line since week four, he has stayed in the mix at tight end by playing nearly 120 snaps over the course of the last four games. Technically, though, he has started three of the past four weeks—at tight end.
It is not surprising to see Adams out there so frequently on the first snap of the game, in actuality, given the amount that the Steelers have been using him. Here is how he started out Pittsburgh’s last game against the Bills.
Lined up on the left side of a balanced run formation, Adams took on outside linebacker Manny Lawson, keeping him walled off and out of the play. Le’Veon Bell ran through the C Gap between Adams and Kelvin Beachum, with both Heath Miller and Will Johnson leading, and it resulted in a four-yard gain.
The play didn’t turn out as successfully as it could have, somewhat underselling the quality of Adams’ work. This late first quarter play can also relate.
This time, Adams lined up on the right side of the formation, but the outside linebackers switched sides. Mario Williams evidently likes to stay on the weak side, yet he still failed to register on the stats sheet.
Because the right side of the line got tossed aside, Bell was forced to cut wider than intended. As a result, he ended up running right into Adams, despite him pushing Lawson beyond the right hash marks. Because of the failures of others, the play somewhat makes Adams look bad, but that is not the case.
His blocking proved to be a critical asset in key situations just a bit later though, despite the earlier run failures. On this third and one scenario, Adams provided the push along the right side of the line against Arthur Moats that helped Jonathan Dwyer force his way across the line of scrimmage for the first down.
Of course, his most significant play of the game came with Bell on tailback and Adams sending linebacker Nigel Bradham onto his back. Adams eventually drove Bradham into the endzone before pancaking him, after which followed Bell for the score.
Adams had an impressive game as a run blocker against the Bills, but did very little in pass protection. In fact, 22 of his 28 snaps came on running plays. Still, one wonders when he’ll get his next start along the offensive line, especially given the injuries at right tackle, at which spot he played as a rookie, though that would entail getting more work in pass protection as well.