Steelers Mike Adams fine with playing on the left or right

Doug Pensinger

One of the more intriguing storylines heading into the 2013 season is which young tackle the Steelers will start on the left side, Mike Adams or Marcus Gilbert.

It wasn't exactly an admission he would rather play on the left side, but Steelers offensive tackle Mike Adams pointed out to Teresa Varley recently he played left tackle throughout college.

Adams played left tackle in stints during the preseason, and he looked about as solid as his rookie status might indicate. When he was moved to the right side, however, the team's running game flourished, and it faded just as quickly when Adams was out of the lineup.

Where new offensive line coach Jack Bicknell sees Adams playing this season isn't known any more than where third-year man Marcus Gilbert will play, but the two are facing the biggest position question of the offseason.

The likely departure of veteran Max Starks opens the position Gilbert was said to have at the end of the 2011 season - left tackle. The Steelers drafted right guard David DeCastro, and moved right tackle Willie Colon to left guard. Gilbert was moved back to the right side when Starks was re-signed during training camp. Gilbert was eventually placed on injured reserve due to an ankle injury he suffered early in a Week 7 win over the Bengals.

Adams looked outstanding at times in the run game, but had understandable struggles in pass protection. Adams is at least one step ahead of Gilbert in terms of athleticism, but Gilbert's technique is more sound at this point.

If the Steelers will employ more of a zone running scheme this season, which player plays on which side isn't clear cut; teams are typically right-handed in the run game, but both tackles have important jobs, whether out in front of the play or blocking the back side.

Left tackles make far more than right tackles do, top to bottom, due to the necessity of having to protect the area the passer cannot see.

Adams' athleticism gives him an advantage, but some of the lapses he had as a rookie in limited action may hold him back. Gilbert is more of a technician than a physically dominant blocker.

For whatever it's worth, Gilbert played on the left side in college as well, so whichever direction the Steelers go in with their young tackles, they'll have a guy who played on the left side in college, but to this point in the pros, have only played on the right.


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