Keep Adams On The Blind Side

Mike Tomlin was wrapping up "Friday Night Lights" – St. Vincent College version 1.0 – at his post-practice press conference, when music ...

... began wafting over from the baseball field.

"Guys," the Steelers' P.R. man interrupted, "the band's starting to play. Last question for coach."

"Why?" asked a newsman. "Is he going to the concert?"

"I'm running the fireworks," said Tomlin. "The more you can do!"

The more you can do.

It's the credo this time of the year. It's how undrafted rookies – or, really, all of those fighting for the last few roster spots – win jobs.

It's also what coaches say when they want to take a look at a possible change, and last night Tomlin wanted to take a look at Mike Adams playing left tackle and Marcus Gilbert playing right tackle.

It is, in fact, what I've wanted to see since the start of spring ball. And last night – under the most game-like conditions a coach can simulate during a training camp – seemed to be a telling time.

In my mind, anyway.

But Tomlin said it really didn't mean all that much. When he was asked if the move was made merely to expand those tackles' "position flexibility," Tomlin said, "Absolutely."

Here was the follow-up question: "Might Adams stay there for good?"

"Yeah," Tomlin admitted. "But read into it what you read into it. If Ike Taylor was playing left corner and being swapped to right corner, it's about the same thing. I know we make more out of it than what it is, but it's just that."

Maybe he's trying to convince the former left tackle of that. Maybe Gilbert needs to believe the move doesn't mean anything more than Taylor following A.J. Green from the left side to the right side.

But didn't we, the Pittsburgh media, spend the 2010 season explaining the extreme difficulty in Flozell Adams' move to the right side?

Hey, I'm all for the move. Gilbert at LT was my No. 4 concern coming into camp, if you recall that pre-camp column. And trust that some of the team's employees feel the same way. They saw the way he injured half of his linemates and then himself last season. They understand the questions surrounding his grit and fire. And Tomlin heard plenty about giving Adams a look at left tackle instead. At "Friday Night Lights," a magical practice where we want to believe things are happening for a reason, Tomlin acquiesced.

Does it mean anything?

Well, Adams did play well. He's played well all week, after overcoming a recent stabbing, and he deserves the opportunity. And on this night he kept No. 7 clean. That's what's most important for Adams, because we know he's a killer in the run game.

And in the one-on-one drills, Adams didn't need two, or even one, blown rep to begin warming up to the task. Adams came right out and shut Cameron Heyward down to set the tone for the remainder of the drill.

So, yes, Adams deserves a look, a good, long, sincere look. That's my opinion, while Tomlin's is still under wraps.

An offensive lineman who's played next to both tackles, and who's old enough and mature enough to provide me with some honesty, was asked to break this logjam.

"Both of them have been playing well beside me," said left guard Ramon Foster. "Mike did well today. Gilbert has been consistent also. It'll just have to battle itself off. Mike is naturally left-handed; Gilbert's right-handed. We'll see how the coaches view it, but in my opinion they're both about even."

You're going to abstain, Ramon?

C'mon.

"That's how I see it," he said. "You asked for my honest opinion. That's it"

That's not how many others see it here. Many others smarter than me believe Adams is the natural left tackle and Gilbert is the natural right tackle; or even a natural to be replaced at the first opportunity.

But that's coming from the hardcore crowd up here. They get camp flu earlier than most.


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