I guess today must be my day for tackling the Steelers roster, because not long after my assessment of the putative tackles for 2012 Steelers.com announced they have signed Max Starks.
Details are thin. They didn't say whether Starks, who famously showed up to Ben Roethlisberger's wedding last summer at nearly 400 pounds, is thin or not. But apparently they think the depth at tackle is. Starks was signed to a one-year deal.
Camp just got even more interesting.
Inquiring minds want to know whether this move signals uncertainty about Mike Adams, but unfortunately inquiring minds aren't likely to find out until the end of training camp. But since the only backups to the position are the universally scorned Jonathan Scott, a handful of unproven UDFAs, and Kyle Jolly, this move makes a lot of sense. Especially when you consider the oft-injured character of the offensive line in the past couple of years.
When I was looking up the stats on Marcus Gilbert I noted Starks didn't really outshine him. Pro Football Focus ranked Starks directly in front of Gilbert. Although Starks was clearly superior in run blocking Gilbert was much better in pass protection. The only PIT tackle to finish with a positive rating was Willie Colon, ironically, for his one game. Trai Essex ranked behind Gilbert for the six games he played some snaps in, and Jonathan Scott was in a different zip code.
But all this is really moot, unless something happens and Starks has to start at LT. Then his injury history in the past few years will be much more of a concern. All of that said, welcome back to the Steelers, Max! It will be a comfort to have you available.