Being as Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Mike Adams will be sidelined for next four weeks due to him needing a surgical procedure on his back last week, reserve tackle Alejandro Villanueva figures to see an increase in his reps while the team is at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe for training camp. Even so, Villanueva doesn’t view Adams’ injury as one that directly impacts him.
“I don’t think it matters,” said Villanueva, who was on the Steelers practice squad all of last season, according to steelers.com. “I’m not competing against one guy. I’m competing against everyone else in the league right now. So whether [the Steelers] draft a guy in the first round or they don’t draft a guy at all at my position, I think it’s up to me to make the team.”
Villanueva, however, still looks forward to the extra reps he’ll receive with Adams sidelined.
“Yeah, and it’s totally different when you come from a bottom of the depth chart, third-string guy, to a second-string guy because the coaches give you a lot more attention,” he said. “For me right now, I’m in a position where I just need to keep working hard, listen to my coaches and teammates and absorb everything that I have around me so I can make the best of my situation.”
Villanueva, who now has the weight to match his 6-9 height, reportedly passed the Steelers annual pre camp conditioning run with flying colors and according to Chris Bradford of the Beaver County Times, the former Army captain credits his time spent in the service for allowing him to breeze through the test. He told Bradford that he ran five miles a day in the Army and that Saturday’s run wasn’t a big deal because of that.
Being as Villanueva wasn’t with the Steelers last year during training camp and the preseason, Sunday marked the first time that fans got an opportunity to watch him work as an offensive lineman. With Adams out indefinitely, and the team scheduled to play five preseason games this year, he should receive quite a bit of playing time leading up to the regular season.
Should he ultimately show progress as a swing tackle in the coming weeks, Villanueva might very well wind up impacting Adams when it comes to spots on the team’s final 53-man roster. There’s a long span of time before decisions such as that need to be made, but you count on the former Army captain giving it everything he has between now and then. He certainly has the right mindset.