Pressure Is On Keion Adams To Get Back On Field


Sometimes among the most significant players of interest after a game are those who did not play. And after the Pittsburgh Steelers’ season opener, and the performance by Arthur Moats, I’m thinking that rookie seventh-round outside linebacker Keion Adams is getting awfully interested in getting back on the field as soon as possible.

If he was not before, Moats is certainly the favorite to make the roster between the two of them following Friday night’s showing, during which he recorded an interception and three sacks in addition to a couple of other notable pressures on the quarterback, even if much of that work came against second-string offensive linemen.

The Steelers have, I believe, already four roster spots at the outside linebackers position locked up. At a minimum, they have three. Bud Dupree is expected to take a big step forward in his third season at the left outside linebacker position, while James Harrison remains a presence on the blind side, and rookie first-round draft pick T.J. Watt will be getting a lot of work as well, from the looks of it.

Behind those three players, there is third-year Anthony Chickillo, who has over the course of his first two seasons been able to carve out a valuable role for himself on special teams. He even started several games last season after passing Moats on the depth chart while Dupree was still injured.

Because Moats is not as important a part of the special teams units as Chickillo—and because he seemingly fell behind the others on the depth chart—his spot from last season figures to be the most vulnerable, which has fostered the notion of a roster battle between himself and the Steelers’ other rookie outside linebacker in Adams.


But as they say, you can’t make the club from the tub, and right now, the Western Michigan product is nursing an injured shoulder. There is no clarity at the moment with respect to the severity of the injury and how much more time he will have to miss, but all of the practices that he is missing—and especially the games—are critical opportunities for him to get ahead.

While camp reports have indicated that Adams did show up well, the simple fact of the matter is that his roster spot is going to have to be earned by demonstrating that he can perform, and be trusted, on special teams, and that is not something that can be sufficiently replicated on the practice field.

He had better hope that he will not be out for much longer and will be able to take part in special teams by the Steelers’ next preseason game, because if he doesn’t start making headway, he is not going to make the 53-man roster. Not that sitting on the practice squad for a year would be the worst thing, but it would be unfortunate for the Steelers should they ultimately lose him.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Douglas Andrews

    Moats certainly is the favorite but I’m still under the impression that if Keion Adams makes an impression on ST’s things are going to get pretty interesting. Also Dave B brought up a good point on the podcast regarding Moats being the highest paid OLB on the team. Hard to keep Moats as a backup making almost 3 million especially if there’s a chance he might not dress on game days.

  • Kevin Artis

    I think Keion Adams is PS bound. I don’t think he will make that much of an impression in the next three games to garner a spot on the 53. Moats is valuable at OLB with Watt, Harrison, Chick, and dupree.

  • john bennett

    I would be shocked if Adams makes it to the 53 over Moats.

  • Michael Conrad

    Lets hold the train on Moats . He had a good game but his guy has been here a couple years. Its preseason did he play this well in a regular season game.

  • NinjaMountie

    The only reason you’d not keep Moats is money and I’m not aware of us having a cap problem.

  • NinjaMountie

    Moats tends to play fairly well whenever he’s put into the game.

  • NinjaMountie

    He’s versatile, though. He can play inside if the need arises.

  • falconsaftey43

    I honestly think Moat’s performance doesn’t change the position battle Dynamics at all. He has started 24 games for the Steelers, they know who he is. Doesn’t change the fact that he is the 4th OL at best, 5th based on last year. If Adams shows decent potential and ST capability, I still think he makes it over Moats. Why? Because when is Moats going to play?

  • Douglas Andrews

    There’s an argument for his versatility keeping him on the team but as he admitted last week no one from the Steelers has approached him about playing ILB. That being said I’m not sure how effective he’d be in an emergency.

  • Jim Foles

    i bet watt can too.

  • NinjaMountie

    Maybe. But Moats HAS played inside in the NFL. I’d be more comfortable with Moats if I had to pick one over the other.

  • NinjaMountie

    ILB is one of the areas that I’m worried about with depth as we have on ILB who seems to always miss a handful of games. I know that ILB isn’t his best position by far. I just think I’d keep Moats around for one more season.

  • falconsaftey43

    Does the fact that he could be the 5th or 6th ILB really matter? So many guys have to go down before we get to the point of him playing, same on the outside.

  • NinjaMountie

    Maybe. Other than Chickillo’s ST play, I don’t think he’s a better option at OLB. I was hopeful with him, too.
    Lets assume Shazier goes down for 3 or 4 games (not a crazy assumption). You’re starting VWill and TM. Their backups are who (Is it Johnson and Fort)? I wouldn’t be surprised if Moats could outplay either of them.
    It’s just an opinion. So much speculating when you get this deep into the depth chart, lol.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Hypothetically if you knew Shaz plays this entire year injury free would you want to keep Moats?

  • NinjaMountie

    Being that we don’t need to move any money, yes. I just think he’s a better player than we’d have otherwise.
    If we needed to move money he’d be my first cut.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    If Moats makes the team or not he has one of the best attitudes I’ve seen in a player! He’s always upbeat and in a great mood! Good guy!

  • Douglas Andrews

    Based off the money he’s making he’d have to be active for every game. If Shaz is healthy all year i’m not sure when he’d get some snaps especially if Chickillo has passed him up on the OLB depth chart.

  • NickSteelerFan

    What is everyone’s impression of F Huguenin? Thought he showed up decent in the first game and I’ve heard good reports from Training camp

  • falconsaftey43

    I just have a hard time believing Moats is a better ILB than Johnson or Fort.

  • pittsburghjoe

    this team has a good mix of young talent and veteran leadership. I hope he can make the team and add to the young talent. Moats is solid, but his arrow is not pointing up. I would rather take the chance on the young guy in this instance.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Tick, tick, tick. With the preseason games started; remainder of training camp will blur by. Unless there is an injury; most roster decisions will be done by the 4th preseason game since it will be one big cutdown from 90 to 53. Tough time to be missing practice. May be practice squad bound.

  • John Pennington

    Adams will get picked off when they try to put him on the practice squad so he needs to get on the fiekd ASAP to earn a spot.

  • Joseph Shaw

    Curious: Why do you think Adams is in danger of being poached?

  • Joseph Shaw

    Totally agree.

  • falconsaftey43

    Odds are against him being claimed (and almost zero if he hasn’t gotten into pre-season games). Last year, 37 guys were claimed off of waivers after final cut downs. That’s roughly 5% of all players released. Even if he is claimed, that’s a good thing for Adams, as he’ll be on an active roster and have a chance to play.

  • SilverSteel

    The same reason Feeney and Grant were picked up last year. Good OLBs are hard to find. I highly doubt Allen and Adams are going to be gambled with. Two excellent physical specimens that need some coaching.

    Odom needs so much work, I get that PS choice. But Adams was playing well in camp. we’re gonna have to decide to play it safe and keep guys like Steven Johnson/Golden/Moatesetc… or get the youth we prospected on the team. There is a ton of talent here. Can’t stick them all on the PS.

  • SilverSteel

    It’s an educated gamble but I agree. Let the youth in. I think MT shakes the roster up significantly this year.

  • SilverSteel

    Agreed, but I think Moates stays due to him maybe playing ILB if needed. And guys like SJohnson will be cut to make room instead.

  • SilverSteel

    I think he would eat SJohnsons lunch. What do you guys see in SJ? He’s just an average player you could find anywhere if the need arises.

  • SilverSteel

    But is Chick playing better at this point?

  • Joseph Shaw

    I still have to think a seventh-rounder isn’t suddenly at the top of every radar right now. Especially injured. Doesn’t compute.

  • Joseph Shaw

    P.S. Agree on Allen–I think it’s a different equation with him.

  • SilverSteel

    Can’t wait to see how this all shakes out. Guys like SJohnson who have hit their average ceiling will be cut to make room for some change. IMO

  • Alan Tman

    I think everyone played pretty good, especially compared to recent exhibition seasons, so they all better hustle back. Especially Sutton, Adams, Chickillo, Conners, Ayers, and Hunter. The train is movin, and it’s filling up fast!!

  • Alan Tman

    He certainly missed the wrong preseason game,because the Giants OL is horrible. Lol

  • falconsaftey43

    I have no reason to think Moat’s would be any better at ILB. Johnson is a very good ST player.

  • falconsaftey43

    Grant wasn’t claimed or signed off Steelers PS. They cut him and never signed him to their PS. Feeney was poached mid season.

  • falconsaftey43

    He is a good ST player. That’s mostly want you are looking for in your 5th LB.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I question whether he can. I think all our writers are skeptical about that, even though he recently said he was willing to do it.

  • Matthew Marczi

    He did ‘hold serve’, so to speak, showing that he can do what he’s supposed to do, and I do think there’s a little value in that. The bigger problem though is obviously the opportunities Adams has already missed. If Moats struggled, perhaps that might have mattered less, but he has to get back and show he can make the veteran expendable, particularly by earning a special teams role.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I would have to take a closer look at him but he seemed to play reasonably well. I recall he looked pretty fluid working in coverage as well.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Often times these guys end up becoming available again later down the line anyway.

  • Steeler Nation!

    If I’m Adams or Chickillo, I’m thinking I better get my butt on the field and get to work. While Dupree, Watt, and Silverback are all locks, you figure there’s 2 hats left. And none of Moats, Chick or Adams have done enough to be locks right now. Go to work.

  • NinjaMountie

    I don’t blame you guys for being skeptical. I’m just saying that I’m more skeptical of Fort’s and Johnson’s ability. Not by much…but a little.

  • John Pennington

    Teams are always looking for a pass rusher on the outside thats why I dont think he gets to the PS.I know he hasn’t played yet but there is tape on him some team may take a chance on him.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I suppose Chickillo might not quite be a lock, but I think he’s pretty close. He’s been a core special teams player for most of his two-year career already (second in ST tackles last year behind Matakevich) and, of course, was playing on defense ahead of Moats. In my opinion, as long as he continues to be the player he’s been he’ll make the team again.

  • Douglas Andrews

    I’d rate them as almost even Steel. Might slightly give the edge to Moats just because he’s a competent backup who won’t be out of place, knows the system but probably won’t make a splash play in meaningful game like we saw the other day. Chick on the other hand has made a few plays during the regular season just not enough to be the clear winner of the two. If Chick had the game that Moats had the other day i’d say Moats was on his way out. As it is right now I think Chick has to really show something this preseason in order for the Steelers to move on from Moats.

  • SilverSteel

    Agreed. Chick needs a breakout game soon!

  • Steeler Nation!

    I believe that. But I wouldn’t be too comfortable if I were him. Moats isn’t going quietly, and I wanna see Adams get going. Compete.

  • Matthew Marczi

    It’s always in your best interest to assume and expect nothing. Fortunately Chickillo doesn’t strike me as a guy who would take his roster spot for granted. After all, he did get cut as a rookie.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I don’t think so. I see him as the fourth OLB on this team and his quality special teams play gives him the edge over Moats.