It certainly wasn\’t a great season for the Pittsburgh Steelers when it came to running the football in 2012. In fact, it was a down right lousy one. They ended the season with 1,537 net yards rushing and that was the lowest output since 2003 when they rushed for 1,488 yards.
The Steelers offensive line once again suffered through several injuries in 2012 on their way to starting 7 different line combinations over the course of the season and that certainly played a role in the running game being lousy. The hardest position hit on the line this season was right tackle where Marcus Gilbert started 5 games there while rookies Mike Adams and Kelvin Beachum started 6 and 5 respectively. If that wasn\’t enough, guard Ramon Foster was forced to close out the season finale against the Cleveland Browns at right tackle after Beachum left the game with a concussion.
Adams, who suffered an ankle injury in the Week 12 loss to the Browns, was perhaps the biggest loss the Steelers had on their offensive line when it came to running the football in 2012. During the season the Steelers rushed for 4.56 yards per carry on plays when Adams was out on the field as opposed to 3.76 yards per carry when he wasn\’t. That\’s a .80 difference if you are scoring at home.
When Gilbert was on the field the Steelers rushed for 2.78 yards per carry and 3.82 when he wasn\’t. With Beachum it wasn\’t much better as the team rushed for 3.44 yards per carry with him on the field and 3.80 when he wasn\’t.
In the 5 full games that Adams started and played every snap in the Steelers rushed for 694 yards on 147 rushes for a very robust 4.72 yards per rush. The team of course went 4-1 in those 5 games with the lone loss coming against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 11. Keep in mind that they didn\’t have the services of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in that game.
Adams certainly had his problems in the pass protection department as a rookie, but it is hard to overlook the difference that he made in the run blocking department. This will be something that the Steelers can build on moving into 2013 when Adams is projected to be the starting left tackle if veteran Max Starks is not re-signed.
The Steelers have to find a way to run the ball better in 2013 and Adams certainly will be expected to play a big role in that.