By Matthew Marczi
It’s not often that a fan base holds its breath when damned-near Mr. Irrelevant gets injured, but that’s what Pittsburgh Steelers fans found themselves doing against the Baltimore Ravens when Kelvin Beachum, the team’s starting left tackle and former seventh-round compensatory draft pick, went down with an injured knee.
As it went, Beachum was forced to sit out the next game, giving way to the reason that he was in the starting lineup in the first place: Mike Adams. Adams, of course, was the pedigreed tackle that the Steelers drafted last year, in the second round, but whose dismal performance leading up to and especially in Week Four earlier this year saw him take an extended seat on the bench.
Adams was the next man up on Sunday, however, with Beachum out. He made his first start at left tackle since that Minnesota Vikings game, and he did relatively well. You can tell that he’s now trying to do the things he needed to work on, even if he doesn’t always succeed in doing them, particularly with respect to his handwork.
His reputation since coming to the team has been as a run blocker, of course, and because the Steelers have historically been right-handed when it comes to running the ball, many paint him as a future right tackle eventually, when all the dust settles. But if you have a left tackle capable of blocking for the run, then you can be more ambidextrous.
He more or less held his own in pass protection as well, though. Even the times that Ben Roethlisberger held on to the ball some and Adams was left on his own, as was the case above against Cameron Wake.
But it wasn’t all roses for the second-year tackle, as seen on the touchdown pass that finished off Pittsburgh’s second drive of the game, from which the first two plays above were taken. Adams got beaten right across his face by the rusher. Luckily for him, it was a quick-release pass—admittedly, the same thing that has been benefitting Beachum for the last several weeks, which just so happened to coincide with his ‘settling down’ at left tackle. Everybody settles down when they only have to block for a second and a half.
This is what happens when both of your tackles get beaten on the same play. It’s a wonder that Roethlisberger was able to thread the needle on third and 10 to keep the drive alive. Of course, Adams here was at least able to recover and work the rusher around the pocket, allowing Roethlisberger to step up and deliver the throw.