Steelers offensive tackle Mike Adams during practice at St. Vincent College in Latrobe on Tuesday, August 7, 2012.
By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pardon Mike Adams if he declines to celebrate the anniversary that arrives Sunday. It has not been a good year for him and it all began June 1, 2013.
Adams’ spring practices with the Steelers ended early that morning when he was knifed in the stomach and arm. The injuries required surgery.
He testified he was accosted on Carson Street by three men who tried to steal his truck.
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He recovered from his wounds, but things only went downhill from there. A month ago, all three men were found not guilty of the assault, and now one of them is suing Adams for wrongful use of the criminal process, malicious prosecution, false arrest, intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation.
Oh, and Adams lost his starting job at left tackle after the first four games of 2013 to Kelvin Beachum.
But this is a new year, and Adams, who has his health back, is determined to recapture something else as well — his starting job at left tackle.
“Definitely,” Adams answered. “I didn’t come here to sit on the bench. I’m here to compete.”
With the legal issues ongoing, Adams declined to talk about the incident or his reaction to the verdicts. He offered a one-word description of his experiences over the past year: “Crazy.”
He also refused to use the knifing and the weakening of his core as reasons for his subsequently disappointing play in 2013.
“I’m not here to make excuses. Call it what you want. I’m not like that. It’s over now.”
Adams said he is able to put the lingering legal issues aside when it comes to preparing for his third NFL season.
“I’m fine physically, and that’s what I care about. The rest is whatever. I’m here to play football and compete. I’m not worried about that stuff.”
He ran behind Beachum at left tackle for the first two spring practices and has not been at right tackle, where there was speculation he would compete to unseat starter Marcus Gilbert, something that still could occur. Adams started six games at right tackle as a rookie in 2012.
He said he feels stronger than last season and hopes a 10-pound weight loss to 315 will make him lighter on his feet.
“I’m doing a lot better physically,” he said.
The contrast between Adams and Beachum is stark. Adams, a second-round draft choice, stands 6 feet 7. Beachum, who came to the Steelers in the seventh round, is 6-3, 300 pounds, although he would like to add 10 more so when he loses the expected 10 during camp and the season, he will remain at 300. .
Beachum’s game is technique and leverage and trying to outwork everyone else. He started 11 games at left tackle and wants to keep it every bit as much as Adams would like to take it away.
“I have to keep doing what I’m doing. Do what got me here, that’s working harder than anyone else, staying longer after practice,” said Beachum, among the last players off the field Wednesday. “Doing all the little things. It’s the little things, the details, finishing and effort which keeps you on the field.”
As have other offensive linemen, the two tackles welcomed the addition of a new coach in Mike Munchak, a Hall of Fame guard who, over the past 20 years, has been an offensive line coach and then head coach for the Tennessee Titans. Munchak has re-installed the outside zone-blocking schemes the Steelers abandoned in the first game last season.
“We have some zone-blocking concepts, some gap concepts, both are great and complement each other,” Beachum said.
Munchak brings with him a good reputation for teaching technique, and Adams said he already is working wonders with him and others.
“He’s an awesome teacher. He’s a guy who played the game, he’s a Hall of Famer, one of the greats, so it’s awesome to have him in there to teach us and give us his insight.”
A new coach, a fresh opportunity and better physical shape gives Adams a whole new mindset.
“What’s in the past is in the past. I’m not looking back.”
Rookie Dri Archer, the team’s third-round draft pick, missed both practices this week. He was sent home on Tuesday because he was sick, but then turned out for the NFL Players Association Rookie Premier event that began Wednesday in Los Angeles.
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