For Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Mike Adams, there’s no running away from the chaos and disappointment of 2013, which began with a knife wound.
His recollections of this past season are simple, and to the point. “I think it went pretty bad”, he said. “I think it would be tough on anybody”. It’s a natural reaction to failing at your craft to the point at which you have to be replaced.
He wasn’t just replaced, however. He was inactive for the next game, and had it not been for the injury suffered by the newly signed Levi Brown, he may have spent a few more weeks on the inactive list.
Instead, it gave him a chance to keep at it, as the Steelers gave him plenty of reps as a tackle eligible at tight end through the remainder of the season. He also started one game late in the year with Kelvin Beachum out with an injury.
But 2014 is a new year, and he’s got a new offensive line coach in Mike Munchak, which he described as “an awesome coach”. Munchak has “reviewed everything from last year”, and the pair is working on making Adams a better player.
But for now, he’s just looking to put some work in, saying that he hasn’t lost any of his competitive edge due to his struggles. “I’m here to compete for a job and get better every day…wherever they need me, I just want to come out and play”.
Thus far, where they’ve needed him most seems to be as the second-team left tackle, behind Beachum, who took his job last season after four games.
Late in the proceedings on Thursday, however, Munchak had Adams lined up as the first-team right tackle in place of Marcus Gilbert for a spell.
Of course, it’s long been assumed that the Steelers might well pit Adams and Gilbert against one another to compete for a spot in the starting lineup at right tackle, and perhaps that was the first sign of said competition.
It’s quite a decline from last summer, when the two competed for the starting left tackle job, with the loser receiving the consolation prize of starting right tackle.
It will be interesting to see how the pieces continue to move going forward, however. Will Adams be given any reps at left tackle with the first team, for example? Will Beachum get any work on the right side this summer?
It can’t hurt to pit all three against one another. The worst it could do is to hone their skills and increase their versatility, all of which could use the work. None of them have ever had the asset of Munchak as their line coach before this season, so some of the prior evaluations need to be thrown out of the window.
I’ve long stressed throughout this offseason that this is the year during which the Steelers must have their answers at the bookends of the offensive line, whether in the affirmative or negative. They seem to have settled down on a winning trio in the interior, but there’s still so much that we don’t know about Beachum, Gilbert, and perhaps Adams in particular. Time is ticking as they enter their third and fourth seasons.