Steelers Make Do Without Matt Spaeth Using Tackle Eligible Mike Adams

Third-year Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Mike Adams had spent three straight weeks in the starting lineup filling in for the injured Marcus Gilbert at right tackle, and he certainly didn’t win any awards for his efforts.

With Gilbert returning, Adams would have ordinarily returned to the bench, but because tight end Matt Spaeth found himself sitting out the Steelers’ game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, the lineman got the opportunity to see some time at tight end for the first time since last season.

Though he didn’t see as much time as Will Johnson, Adams did play a bit more than fourth-string tight end Michael Palmer as the Steelers looked to mix and match in order to fill the void left in the offensive lineup, particularly in the ground game, in Spaeth’s absence.

Was it worth the effort? It’s somewhat hard to say based on his 15 snaps, especially since the majority of them came in pass protection in which he was babysitting the outside shoulder of Gilbert against Justin Houston and Dee Ford, often on quick passes. For his part, though, he did not end up surrendering any pressure or get quarterback Ben Roethlisberger injured in this game.

Adams did not see any playing time on either of the Steelers’ first two drives, spanning all of the first quarter, but he did come out with the offense on their first play of the second quarter, and contributed on five plays of the drive, including the first three, all of which saw him in pass protection. The final play of the drive was the one-yard touchdown run by Le’Veon Bell, on which play Adams lined up to the left of Kelvin Beachum and helped seal off the back side as the run went to the right.

A few of his snaps did come as a run blocker, as on the touchdown above. The end result was mixed success. There was an occasion or two in which he allowed his defender to slip off and get in on the tackle, but he also displayed some tenacity in playing through the whistle.

On a drive late in the third quarter, for example, on a second and four run, Adams, lined up to the left, sealed off the back side, and when Bell cut the run back in his direction, he helped push the back forward for the first down. A few plays later, he torpedoed Chiefs safety Ron Parker off of a pile of defenders crowded around the first-down marker on a first and five run.

A year ago, Spaeth missed the first three quarters of the season, which necessitated that the Steelers improvise by using Adams as a tight end. There was mixed success with the strategy last year, as there was in this game, but, even if the running game was not as successful as it could have been, at least the Steelers have shown that they will do what is necessary to continue to run their offense, even if it’s preferable to have Spaeth back for the season finale.

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