Lost in the shuffle of Pittsburgh’s most recent defeat was the fact that Mike Adams started his first game at left tackle since he was benched back in October.
To his credit, Adams probably enjoyed the best game of his professional career on the blind-side. While he had his fair share of help when it came to pass-protecting Ben Roethlisberger, Adams did not allow a sack and did not commit a penalty during the Steelers’ 34-28 loss.
Due to his play on Sunday and as the team’s extra tackle/tight end, I believe that the former Ohio State Buckeye deserves to start on Sunday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. Although Kelvin Beachum is the best left tackle the team has on their roster at this point, Pittsburgh’s coaching staff should strongly consider starting Adams at the right tackle spot instead of Marcus Gilbert.
Remember readers, it was Adams who was named Pittsburgh’s Rookie of the Year last fall for his efforts after he replaced Gilbert in the starting lineup at right tackle. Moreover, Adams could be the player who has the best long-term future at the position.
Armed with a large frame (6’7″ 323 lbs.) and the ability to be a tremendous asset as a run blocker, Adams is a much better fit at the right tackle spot than over on the blind-side. Although he is still developing his pass-blocking skills and is ill-suited to be left alone on an island at left tackle often, moving a player with Adams’ athleticism to the right side could make him one of the better right tackles at the NFL level.
Unlike Adams, the third-year tackle out of the University of Florida was abused in pass-protection all game long by the hobbled Cameron Wake. His inability to pass-protect led to Pittsburgh’s first turnover when Roethlisberger was sack-stripped late in the first half, and his struggles with consistency in recent weeks could make him a perfect candidate to have some competition for his job from the hungry Adams.
Pittsburgh’s coaching staff needs put some heat on Gilbert as soon as possible, especially since his rookie contract is set to expire after the 2014 regular season. Competition can breed success and improvement, and I would love to see the two former second round picks play with a sense of urgency and tenacity for the starting gig at right tackle.
Adams could provide that much-needed competition for Gilbert, and the former Ohio State Buckeye could be just the player who will force Gilbert to sink or swim.
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