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Steelers Mike Adams' account of his stabbing June 1 may have changed, but his story hasn't

Defense attorneys successfully argued Adams' story had changed enough to discredit his testimony as to what happened the early morning of June 1, 2013. The bigger picture problem with Adams, though, is that his story is isn't changing.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

SteelerNation's general reaction on the morning of June 1, 2013, was probably the same.

"Wait, what?!?"

News broke that Steelers offensive tackle Mike Adams had been stabbed during an alleged robbery attempt on the South Side of Pittsburgh in the early hours that morning. He was expected to make a full recovery, but a lacerated colon and the time needed to recover from such a serious injury would put Adams, a likely starter at one of the two tackle positions, out of the remainder of the offseason program.

A wide range of opinion was doled out - questions pertaining to his level of professionalism to Adams being a victim of random violence permeated radio shows, newspapers and web sites.

This was the latest in a series of negative stories involving the Steelers' 2012 second round draft pick. From suspensions in college to failed drug tests at the Combine, it was hard to judge all of these things independently of each other. There comes a point the concept of coincidence isn't enough to explain one's past.

Fast-forward to training camp. Adams is installed as the team's left tackle before its second preseason game, a loss against the Washington Redskins. Adams doesn't perform any better in that game against the Redskins' starters than the rest of the offensive line, and the same troubled talk about the team's ability to protect its passer and create room for its running backs emerges.

Fans were right to be worried. The Steelers' offensive line, Adams in particular, struggled hugely in the early going of the 2013 season, a string of games that resulted in the team's first four-game losing streak to start a season in decades. Adams is one of the main culprits, having received one of the most savage beatings a tackle can take over four quarters by Vikings defensive end Jared Allen in a 31-27 loss to Minnesota in London.

The Steelers had Adams' replacement on deck not long after they arrived back from London. They arranged a trade with the Arizona Cardinals for OT Levi Brown, in which the Cardinals, anxious to rid themselves of the struggling former top 10 pick, basically assumed all costs if he didn't work out.

He didn't. Brown didn't play a down for the Steelers, having torn his triceps - a reoccurring injury - in warm-ups before the team's Week 6 game at the New York Jets. Kelvin Beachum took over, and was the team's starter the rest of the season.

Meanwhile, Adams had the criminal trial of the three men he accused of attempting to rob and stab him on June 1 looming. He was seeing time on the field as a package tight end and a back-up tackle, seeing just a handful of snaps a game. Beachum got injured and Adams made a spot start against the Dolphins in Week 14. Adams performed well, but the Steelers got the loss, running the team's career record with Adams starting at left tackle to 0-5.

It's hard to pin all five losses on one player, but, like his checkered past, it's hard to ignore it as well.

The Steelers hired their third offensive line coach in three years when Mike Munchak came aboard, and it appeared Adams would be the third horse in a two-horse race for the team's starting tackle positions. His trial, which began in April, quickly showed what rumors around Pittsburgh had been hinting at for a while; Adams' story changed quite a bit from when he first spoke with police and when he was brought in formally as part of the pre-trial. He said he had two drinks that night and his blood-alcohol level was .185 - a level that is typically reached when a man Adams' size consumes around 20 drinks. Witnesses say Adams was "obnoxiously drunk" and was yelling at the defendants.

The trial became all about Adams' character, and he's had a tougher time defending that than he did defending Ben Roethlisberger from Allen that fateful Week 4 evening (London time).

In the end, the three defendants walked, despite Adams having sustained two stab wounds from an altercation no one denied took place. He's being sued civilly by one of the defendants, accusing Adams of making up the entire robbery story in an effort to protect his reputation and keep his job.

While there are issues to believe and not believe Adams' account of the story, again, it's hard to ignore his shaky past when it comes to issues pertaining to his character. How can he be given the benefit of the doubt when even a jury found three defendants not guilty despite Adams having sustained two stab wounds immediately following an altercation no one denied took place? His story was so unconvincing to a jury of his peers, no one was held responsible for him being stabbed.

What's wrong with this picture?

Character is reflected when things don't go according to plan. In the ultra-competitive world of the NFL, however, it's often used as a leverage tool; a player who's made mistakes in revealing a lack of character can be given a second chance by a team with apparent character, and completely independent of everything, will pay him the league minimum with nothing guaranteed in order to get that second chance.

It begs the question, if an undrafted free agent had gone through any one of the things Adams has since the Combine in 2012, would he even be in the league? Even for a class organization like the Steelers, winning trumps all. The team certainly won't reward Adams with an extension any time soon, but that doesn't mean they won't keep a low-priced and experienced tackle with good athleticism on their roster.

Or will they?

Adams has already been surpassed on the team's depth chart by a player taken approximately 200 spots later in the same draft. Beachum wasn't even initially targeted to play tackle, yet, he's still taken the position away from Adams, showing a high level of improvement and the ability to avoid bumping into armed night-life attendees on the South Side.

It's too early to say right now whether Adams has a locked roster spot, but either scenario seems plausible. The team's willingness to overlook Adams' past due to the height of his potential and the depth of his contract value will only continue if the ceiling raises, but that hasn't been evident from his play on the field. The team selected OT Wesley Johnson in the fifth round of the 2014 Draft - a natural zone blocker who showed on film the ability to handle Jadeveon Clowney, the top pick of the draft. There are still free agents available - Brown being one of them, incidentally.

The fact Adams' story changed may have been the reason a jury couldn't convict the three men who were last in physical contact with Adams before he laid on the ground with two stab wounds. Adams' story, though, is exactly what isn't changing with the Steelers, and they may have a difficult decision to make regarding his future.