When the Pittsburgh Steelers re-signed tight end Matt Spaeth last season, they did so full well expecting to use him frequently as a second tight end whose primary function was to control the running game as a blocker. That plan fell through pretty quickly when he suffered a foot injury that kept him out of the first 12 games of the season.
To compensate, the Steelers used offensive linemen as tackle eligible, beginning with Kelvin Beachum, who at the time was the odd man out in the starting lineup at the tackle position. After he took over for Mike Adams at left tackle, however, it was eventually Adams being worked as an extra tight end.
Spaeth has been healthy this year, and he’s been a boon to the running game, but he missed last Sunday’s contest against the Kansas City Chiefs. With Adams still on the bench, he was called upon to resume his extra lineman duties, playing about 15 snaps, most of which came away from the ball in pass protection.
His snaps in the running game, however, left some to be desired, as he slipped off blocks even while blocking on the perimeter, allowing defenders to get in on a tackle. Such was the case late in the third quarter on a six-yard run by Le’Veon Bell.
It was a first down play with the Steelers driving inside the red zone. Adams lined up off right tackle inside Heath Miller. The extra lineman was working against Allen Bailey, but the end was able to step away and flow to the ball, falling on the pile due to the fact that Adams didn’t play him aggressively and get in his pads.
Adams flipped to the opposite side of the formation on the next play, with the receivers lining up to the right of the offensive line. He was looking to reach block Tamba Hali on the outside on a run to the right, but Bell was forced to cut the run back up to the left side, and wound up running right into Adams and Hali instead.
The Steelers continued to put the ball on the ground for a third consecutive play, following an encroachment penalty that gave the offense a first and five inside the 10-yard line. Adams failed to get a good push off the line against Bailey, but the play went the opposite direction anyway. He found himself some action late in the play, diving into the safety to scrape him off the pile. At least it’s nice to see a little aggression.
Pittsburgh spent much of the fourth quarter just trying to drain the seconds off the clock, often reserving first and second down to the ground game. On this occasion, Bailey got the better of Adams again, but this time, Bell was slowed down enough that the end had time to work inside, and nearly made the tackle from behind.