Starks Looking Better Than Ever

"As awesome as my wedding was, it was probably a bad thing for some of the guys. The coaches and some people got to see how big some of them got. It was a difficult offseason. Nobody really knew how to prepare. But at the end of the road, he's here." -- Ben Roethlisberger

PITTSBURGH – It was nearly the size of a royal wedding, and so was Max Starks.

The Steelers' offensive left tackle showed up at Ben Roethlisberger's wedding weighing an estimated 400 pounds, and he mingled with the likes of Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin, Bruce Arians and Sean Kugler.

Yes, the team's offensive braintrust was there, and it was July 23. Less than a week later, the team was to report to Latrobe for the start of training camp, and it came a little too quickly for Starks. Or at least the braintrust saw it that way. They cut Starks on reporting day.

"I wasn't no further out of weight than any other offensive lineman that came into camp," Starks countered Wednesday from the familiarity of the Steelers' locker room.

Tuesday night, the Steelers had signed Starks to a one-year vet-minimum contract. The signing took place nearly 48 hours after their $100 million quarterback needed crutches to limp away from another savage beating behind a patchwork offensive line.

The Steelers could obviously watch the carnage no longer, so they swallowed their pride and signed Starks.

He was back. And he was not bitter.

He explained his release this way: "It really came down to salary cap."

Starks was due to make $6.575 million this season. He also was coming off a neck injury that sidelined him for half of last season. The cherry on top was that he was overweight, so the Steelers cut him.

"When I didn't get the opportunity, found out I was released, I took it as a learning opportunity," Starks said. "I wasn't bitter. I didn't sit in the corner and cry ‘Woe is me' and be bitter when I was walking around the city. I just said, ‘Well, what do I need to do to re-tool, re-fashion, get myself ready?' I just went out to Arizona and started doing the same normal training regimen I normally do. It felt good."

It also gave his neck more time to heal. And while Starks worked in the Arizona heat, the Steelers' line performed abysmally.

Through four games the Steelers are averaging 3.7 yards per carry and are taking 3.5 sacks per game. Willie Colon went down for the season. Jonathan Scott went down for a week and counting. The only healthy Steelers tackles are rookie Marcus Gilbert and some guy named Jamon Meredith. And now there's Starks, who's never looked fitter at 350 pounds.

"Lot of whittling," he explained of his rapid weight loss.

Starks also explained that on his first day, in his first practice in 11 months, he took half the snaps with the first-team offense at left tackle.

Will he stay there through Sunday's game at Heinz Field against the Tennessee Titans?

"I hope so," Starks said. "We'll see when they grade the film. If I did OK, I'll probably stay on pace to do what I did today."

(Read the entire Max Starks interview here on our message board.)


Steel City Insider Top Stories