The Pittsburgh Steelers did not draft an outside linebacker this year—or any linebacker—so it’s hard to get too excited. But the team has a couple of second-year players who are deserving of some attention this summer. T.J. Watt already has a quality season under his belt, but his fellow draft classmate, Keion Adams, is just looking forward to his first preseason action.
Adams, a seventh-round pick out of Western Michigan, spent his rookie year on injured reserve with a torn labrum that required surgical repair after it proved it would not heal on its own. The Steelers chose to keep him with the team rather than waive him with an injury, which he said that he took as a really confidence-booster.
General Manager Kevin Colbert after the 2018 NFL Draft—again, during which they failed to secure any new talent at the position—made reference to Adams as somebody that they view as an additional seventh-round pick this year since they did not get the chance to see him much in 2017. He suffered his injury just a week or so into training camp.
His position coach, Joey Porter, sees how hungry the young man is, especially now that the way was paved for a roster spot with the vacated spots of James Harrison and Arthur Moats from last year’s roster. Right now, he figures to be in the driver’s seat to secure his spot on the 53-man roster as the number four outside linebacker.
“He’s been in the system and learned for a year, and he’s biting at the bit to get out there”, Porter told reporters during minicamp, according to Joe Rutter. “We haven’t seen him in a preseason game. What I think of him is good, but until he puts it on tape, we’ll just wait for it to come around”.
Porter has been heavily criticized by the fanbase for an apparent struggle in developing the young talent on the roster that he has been provided, though his detractors conveniently leave out the success of Watt during his rookie season, crediting him with savant-level knowledge and skills in spite of the fact that he has only played the position for a couple of years.
Granted, he was not able to squeeze any extra blood from the stone that is Jarvis Jones, nor has Bud Dupree developed into a player that you would want to give a second contract yet. The former is already gone, while the latter is entering a pivotal season.
If Adams shows the ability to produce, however, that would go a long way toward earning Porter, a former very accomplished outside linebacker himself, a bit of breathing room and goodwill. And you can be sure the young man is very eager to oblige.