With Pittsburgh Steelers starting left tackle Kelvin Beachum still sidelined on Wednesday by the left knee sprain that he suffered during the Thanksgiving night loss to the Baltimore Ravens, it's starting to look like Mike Adams might just make his first start Sunday against the Miami Dolphins since he was benched after the Week 4 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Should Adams indeed start, his return to the field will include him facing one of the hottest passing rushing defensive ends in the league right now.
On Wednesday, Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon was named the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Week after sacking New York Jets quarterbacks three times this past Sunday. In fact, of Vernon's 10.5 sacks that he now has on the season, five have come in the last three games. If that isn't enough, Vernon has also played the run well on his side in the last three games to boot.
To make matters worse, Adams is currently battling a left ankle sprain that he suffered just a few plays after replacing Beachum in the game against the Ravens. He practiced fully on Wednesday, however, so take that for what it's worth.
Prior to being benched, Adams allowed four sacks, six quarterback hits and 13 hurries in 179 pass blocking opportunities through the first four games of the season. According to the pass blocking efficiency formula used by Pro Football Focus, that equates to a dismal 89.8 PBE number.
Needless to say, with the season now down to four games remaining, the Steelers will have a good idea on Sunday whether or not Adams has progressed any as a left tackle if he starts.
Keeping Vernon away from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be a potential challenge for the Ohio State product, but if he conquers that challenge, perhaps there will still be some hope that he can eventually turn into a long-term starter at the position. If he doesn't, Roethlisberger might be quickly back on track to break the Steelers single-season times sack record.