Tight End Reps Keeping Mike Adams In The Loop

By Matthew Marczi

Mike Adams should be thanking Levi Brown for being so fragile as to suffer a season-ending injury during pre-game warm ups. Had that not occurred, perhaps Adams would still be spending his Sundays in sweat clothes as he ‘hones his craft’ in practice.

That is hyperbole, of course. Given the carousel of injuries that have happened since then, including the season-ending injury to David Johnson, Adams was bound to get back onto the field sooner rather than later. And to be honest, his reps at tight end have been nothing short of mandatory.

This week, the Pittsburgh Steelers finally realized that they could not continue to play David Paulson, and are finally giving Michael Palmer the opportunity to play. Palmer, remember, was the blocking tight end behind Tony Gonzalez with the Atlanta Falcons for a few years; also remember that Gonzalez can’t block.

Even despite that, however, Palmer only played all of 11 snaps this week. Adams? He played 28 of the team’s 68 snaps.

In fact, since his demotion and subsequent benching after forfeiting three sacks and four other pressures to Jared Allen and the Minnesota Vikings in week four, Adams has averaged about 30 snaps a game, including a high of 39 against the Oakland Raiders.

It is notable that the Steelers were able to avoid playing him too much in passing situations in this week’s victory over the Buffalo Bills. Of his 28 snaps, only six of them came with Ben Roethlisberger dropping back to pass.

That was an impossibility over the course of the past two weeks due to the fact that the Steelers were consistently playing from behind. In fact, Adams played 69 snaps in those two games, and 52 of them came in passing situations. He gave up six pressures combined in those two games, neither great nor bad.

In the four games that he has been back on the field playing tight end—with brief stretches at both tackle positions due to injury—Adams has played well, though he still shows obviously technical flaws, especially in pass protection.

Still, in his 117 snaps in that stretch, he has earned a collective grade of 4.0 from Pro Football Focus, which has actually raised his season grade up to -5.7. Most importantly, however, those 117 snaps have kept Adams in the loop.

It is probably only a matter of time before Adams is back in the lineup, whether it is due to injury or promotion. Will that be at left tackle or right tackle? And will it even occur by the end of this season?

I don’t know, but you know that Adams is in their future plans along the starting offensive line. Were he not, he probably wouldn’t be taking so many reps at tight end.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • DoctorNoah

    It seems that his deficits are due to poor technique, but that he has the appropriate physique and strength to play NFL tackle. Technique can be taught, and he never had to use it at Ohio State.

    Is he going to come around? Do we blame Bicknell for his failure this year? Supposedly a technique and fundamentals guy, our line has continued to be plagued by poor technique and mental failures.

    Maybe he needs a year of work and there’s a reason other than reefer that he fell to the second round?

    Maybe we cut him and he goes and starts for the Bills like all of our other lineman…

  • dollardoughtnut

    if can he catch the ball perhaps we found H Millers replacement

  • steeltown

    I think the time he is putting in this year will help his development.. and another year of strength training. I am in no way saying that he will develop into a starting LT, I think we still don’t have one of those on roster, but maybe he can take the starting RT spot from Gilbert next year (considering Gilbert will be a UFA in ’15 that would be ideal) and then Adams could also backup the LT position.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I agree there has been some big gaffs in the OL this year but it is plain to see that this unit is getting better and are having injuries every week so my hat is off to Bicknell ATM.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Actually strength was one of his biggest issue. Despite playing for Ohio State for such length of period, Big Ten lost the strength of pass-rushers in that conference. People give him more props for his strength based solelyon his size.

    He’ll be fine. He just need to be more physically strong and yes, being strong does boost your techniques much more. Forget being gym rats, give him more forearms conditioning and workouts he could be next Flozell Adams. Keep this in mind, Flozell Adams always had been strong and big, but he was never elite in techniques but was great in running game. A good comparison in my opinion.

  • treeher

    Assuming steady but slow improvement, he’d be an upgrade over Gilbert. Next year’s line: Velasquez, Pouncey, DeCastro, Adams, Foster. But who’s the left tackle???

  • Shea Fahr

    The important thing is that he is getting game time snaps. He is gaining valuable knowledge at multiple positions.

  • steeltown

    Not sure we have a starting caliber LT at the moment

  • srdan

    We or 25 other teams.

  • srdan

    pretty good comparison.
    I too give him a pass. The man was stabbed and in ICU while his teamates were at training camp. I think he is barely legal to drink. Let him mature. For some reason I like him and have a legit feeling that he is going to come around. What changed my mind is when I saw him manhandle peppers on the GIFs that dave posted. Peppers got him angry,and paid for it. Hopefully Steelers can teach him to be angry more during games.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    Even with our current draft position, the IDEAL scenario is that he, Gilbert, and Beachum all work out. It is also ideal if Foster and Pouncey and Velasco all come back to the team. At this point, I am even okay with Whimper coming back as a backup.

    Why is this ideal? I really would like to be able to draft Mike Evans. At his size and ability, I think he could change our offense. I don’t see us bringing back Sanders, but I think Wheaton and Cotchery will be back

  • steeltown

    It’s imperative that we retain Velasco, we’ve seen how quickly injury can change the course of a season. It would secure a solid interior line. Im not sure they keep both Gilbert and Adams, we should have them both back next season but after that Gilbert is a FA and I think if Adams can show improvement between now and the end of next year, they can probably let Gilbert walk (unless he agrees to a moderate deal) but if Adams cant show improvement then he might be the one on the outside looking in.

  • cencalsteeler

    I agree but we are at a disadvantage with Velasco. His play is probably going to cement a starters salary. Unless he or Pouncey can slide over to make this work, I fear some team might make him an offer he can’t refuse.

  • steeltown

    Could be… maybe they get a moderate deal done before the free agency market opens, sort of like what they did with Foster this past offseason

  • cencalsteeler

    These extra reps are just what the doctor ordered for Adams. If I was Mike, I would concentrate on getting some off season development training. I know that would score points with the FO and show that you want to be here. I know I will have an eye on him to see how bad he wants this thing.

  • Chad H

    A 1st or 2nd rd draft picks should be able to start day one in the NFL. Yes they are rookies and will not be a complete pro player but they should have quality starts and get better as the season goes. Proper scouting and evaluation of all players racks and stacks those players. Adams has poor “technique.” Was this evaluated? Then he fails a drug test at the combine. That alone should have removed him completely from the Steelers draft board and did. Sweet talks his lazy, pot smoking, wrong neighborhood stab victim ass into being drafted in the 2nd rd. I don’t care how well he plays TE he was drafted to play tackle. In all fairness moving forward cut his ass.

  • steeltown

    Lets not forget that Adams was the Steelers 2012 Rookie of the Year after coming in for the injured Gilbert starting and playing well at RT as a rookie, he’s just not ready or suited to play LT at this point. In the end he doesn’t even have an entire season of play under his belt, atleast not as a starter. Add the fact he missed training camp recovering from stab wounds, as previously mentioned, and that puts him development even further behind

  • Good Idea I would go further and suggest he work out with a top tier left tackle in the off season. And just pepper him with questions.

  • dgh57

    I can’t think of a better teaching tool than getting reps in a game. Foster has gotten better over time due to getting reps due to injury. If Foster had been getting reps sparingly over the last few years his skills would be lacking for sure. Same thing will happen with Adams and I think that’s why he’s playing TE is to hone his skills while at the same time not being a risk at OT until he gets better.

  • steeltown

    oooh man, someone doesn’t like facts ha!

  • cencalsteeler

    Or become best friends with Jared Allen and practice techniques together while bbqing in the back yard and sipping suds?

  • Chad H

    Lets not forget the facts on a post after Beachum replaced him and depot analyzed him as probably will never develop the technique to play the tackle position. I understand missing time because you are in the ghetto getting stabbed at 2AM. That shows he is responsible and developing his technique right? Ta’amu had a checkered past, screwed up his rookie season and never had another issue. He showed hard work and improvement and now he is gone. However his risk was less because he was a 4th rd pick. Adams risk vs reward was too high to be a 2nd rd pick is what I am getting at. I also will contradict myself in saying that with this season not going to well we should put Adams at RT and Gilbert at LT and see what we have. If Adams shows no improvement at the right side by seasons end then he has to be cut.

  • Chad H

    A fact would be he has improved his technique and matured from last year.
    The fact that you are getting at is that he has not demonstrated improvement in either area.
    Man, as a Steelers fan with a pic of Kiesel I would figure a guy like you would be more upset with the likes of Adams work ethic and maturity level. Come on, man!

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Someone call up Incognito…. Oh, that was bad and insensitive…I’ll sensor myself…BAD
    Comment, BAD!

  • steeltown

    BAD, yet rather comical.. that whole situation is rather comical considering we’re talking about grown men making millions of dollars working for an industry that makes billions

  • steeltown

    I agree that they should see how well the OLine plays with Gilbert at LT and Adams at RT

  • steeltown

    Maturity level? At 23yrs old? …and whats wrong with his work ethic? You’re saying he has bad work ethic because he got stabbed while not working?

    My point was he played well at RT as a rookie, just not as a LT this year, after missing most of training camp

  • CrazyTerry

    Is is possible that Adams is better suited to blocking oin the run than from a standstill at the line of scrimmage? Not saying it is so. Just speculating.

  • steeltown

    Ideal.. unless Jared like Marijuana

  • RMSteeler

    Don’t know what kind of hands he has, but if the Steelers get up by 14 (I know it’s a stretch) and get a first and goal inside the 5, I’d bet that Haley has a play for him to carry the ball from FB position. I’d say a pass play if he’s on the line, but don’t see Mike catching a ball even when wide open. Just doing it once in a game might give Bell or Dwyer a little more room the next time on a play inside the 5. This may sound dumb, but is it any dumber than kicking 4 – 20yd FG’s per game?

  • Chad H

    I also don’t “want” to cut him this early in his career but I hope he at minimum is on a very short leash.
    All players entering any pro sport need to mature quick regardless of age. You are now a figure that young kids look up to. This is only my opinion. I get upset when I see pro athletes act a fool. See Alex Rodriguez IMO should be banned from baseball forever.

  • CrazyTerry

    Make Heyward a two way player at the goalline. Try him as a blocker. Try him as a runner in short yardage and see what we can get. I think he can even catch a soft toss in the end zone.

  • cencalsteeler

    Love it! Been saying this for a while. Why not use all the tools you have in the shed to get the job done? It’s like pulling out a shovel to dig a trench, but you have a back hoe parked in the garage. Use the damn thing!!

  • Forever the optimist…I’ll go out on a limb and say that the embarrassment he received this season coupled with the stabbing BS he had to endure will force Adams into an offseason of strength training and fundamentals. He will show up next season ready to play – at least better than what he has shown this season.