With the Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp for the 2015 season now in swing, it’s time to get down to the business of football. The time for “football in shorts” or “football-like” events is over as teams all around the league embark on their own personal journey for the upcoming season.
Although for just about every team the time leading up to the regular season and reflect a period of optimism, it’s also a period of great uncertainty, which means that there are a lot of questions that need to be answered before we know who or what a team truly is. It’s a process that can last well into the regular season.
One of the first things that we learned with the opening of training camp was that we might not see much, if any, of fourth-year tackle Mike Adams, who had back surgery just a few days ago. Adams said that it was an injury that he dealt with throughout the offseason and aggravated during OTAs.
It was only recently decided that the best course of action would be to get it surgically addressed, with the suggestion being that non-surgical intervention would not be a sufficient solution, either in the short term or the long term, if not both. But the recovery period for the surgery is close to a month, which won’t give him much time to get going before the season starts.
Which has raised the question, at least for many, of whether or not Adams will even make the 53-man roster this season. the former second-round draft pick is entering a contract year after losing his starting job early in 2013. He has started five games at tackle since then as an injury replacement.
While opinions of his performance since his demotion have seemingly varied depending on the observer, I am of the opinion that Adams showed little improvement, especially with respect to technique, in his game last season, and I considered this to be a critical offseason when it comes to his future.
Needless to say, he is now slated to miss some of the most critical time with respect to on-field learning, which is a major disadvantage for a veteran player who still has a lot of work to do to improve his craft.
With all that said, however, I do not believe that Adams’ spot on the 53-man roster is actually in jeopardy. For one thing, the fact that his surgery came so close to training camp tells me that it was a difficult decision whether or not it was the best course of action, and that tells me that there is not likely to be any lasting repercussions from the procedure once he does get back.
Beyond that, the Steelers appear to be satisfied with his contributions as a reserve, serving as the swing tackle as an injury replacement. This is the only logical explanation for the fact that they continued to use him as a tackle-eligible from the tight end position to get him on the field.
Adams’ absence from the practice field improves the chances of another tackle making the roster, with Alejandro Villanueva being the lead dog in that discussion. But that does not mean that it is putting his own job security in jeopardy, as he is the only player beyond the starters with experience.
If another tackle makes the roster, it will be as a ninth lineman and a game day inactive, unless something drastic develops with Adams between now and the start of the season. It’s unfortunate, because his opportunity to improve is being severely impaired, but I’m fully confident that he will be on the roster.