Even though his rookie 2017 season was wiped out completely by a shoulder injury, Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Keion Adams believes the knowledge he gained while sidelined last year will help him immensely during this year’s training camp now that he’s fully healthy once again..
“My shoulder has felt fine since early May, a couple of weeks before we started OTAs (Organized Team Activities),” Adams said recently, according to Mike London of the Salisbury Post. “I’m 100 percent as far as the shoulder. And I’ve been able to tell a difference on the field this year as far as my experience. Things have slowed down some. I’ve been able to react more quickly than last year, without thinking, and that’s critical in this league.”
Adams, who was drafted last year by the Steelers in the seventh-round out of Western Michigan, explained to London that he originally suffered his shoulder injury during the team’s annual Friday Night Lights practice while participating in a one-on-one drill against a tight end.
“We just got tangled up, and I went forward but my shoulder sort of stayed behind,” Adams said. “I knew it didn’t feel right, but I’d never really been seriously injured before, so I didn’t expect it to be as bad it was. I finished the drill, but I was in pain.”
Adams’ injury ultimately required him to be shut down prior to the start of the preseason and surgery followed not long after. The Steelers, however, had seen enough of Adams at that point to warrant putting him on their Reserve/Injured list instead of just waiving him injured and then working out a settlement with him.
“In my mind, I’d done enough, but I still wondered if I’d shown enough on film,” said Adams, who also revealed recently that he went back to Western Michigan and got his degree while injured. “I was wondering if my dreams were going to be derailed when I was so close to achieving them. It was a relief when the Steelers wanted to keep me around.”
Being inured and missing extended playing time was something new for Adams, who said he received some great advise from Steelers safety Sean Davis on how to approach his 2017 rookie season while on the team’s Reserve/Injured list.
“He said to treat it like a redshirt year, and that’s what I did,” Adams said. “I tried to do everything with the team. I was at practices and I attended position meetings. I studied tendencies and I studied formations. I learned a lot of details, a lot of small things. My coaches and my teammates kept my spirits up. There was never a dull moment and I laughed a lot with our linebackers. There was never a day when I didn’t feel like I was part of the team.”
Adams is really expected to be part of the Steelers team in 2018 as he’s currently slated to be the No. 4 outside linebacker behind Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt and Anthony Chickillo. Assuming that’s ultimately his spot on the Week 1 depth chart, Adams will then be expected to be a huge contributor on special teams right out of the chute. If he stays healthy this summer, Adams also figures to receive quite a bit of playing time during preseason games and he’ll certainly be a player to watch closely again during training camp, an event he’s already looking forward to participating in again.
“Being able to run all day is the best weapon you can have in the NFL, and I plan to be ready to attack training camp,” Adams said.
During his four seasons at Western Michigan, Adams registered 125 total tackles and 13.5 sacks.