The Steelers signed first-round draft pick Maurkice Pouncey to a five-year deal, giving Mike Tomlin his entire set of draft picks for the fourth time in his four seasons as coach.
"We hold him in high regard," said Tomlin. "That's why we took him with the first pick. But since that time, getting to know him throughout the offseason and watching him work, football's important to him. This is a guy that's not only committed to winning but doing what it takes to be a winner. He's always been associated with winning. He's won state championships in high school. He's won national championships in college. We like those kind of guys. We like putting those kind of guys into the mix. We know that he's capable. He's going to have to prove it out there on the field. We're excited to watch him do that, as I'm sure he's excited about doing it."
The other big man reported after signing with the team on Thursday and driving all day Friday from Chicago: former Pro Bowl offensive tackle Flozell Adams.
"If he shows up in shape, with a ready attitude, he's going to be a valuable asset to us," said left tackle Max Starks. "He'll come in and be the oldest guy in our room. I was the second oldest at seven years. You bring in a veteran who has 10-plus years, that has that experience, that can only be an asset, especially if he comes in with the right attitude."
Starks had called offensive line coach Sean Kugler in the days after Willie Colon's injury to volunteer to move to right tackle if that was what was needed. But the Steelers felt better served by leaving their four remaining starters intact and adding players to compete for the right tackle position, such as Adams. Trai Essex will also remain at right guard.
"It feels kind of good coming into camp playing the same position as the previous year," said Essex, who has played every spot on the line except center. "For me, that's going to be a plus. But if I need to move out to right tackle, I can do that too."
The Steelers hope the addition of Adams won't make that necessary.
"We're obviously happy to be able to acquire a guy of his stature and his resume in the game," said Tomlin. "More important are the visits that we've had the last couple of weeks. This is a guy that's made some money in this league and received just about every personal accolade that you can get, but the fire still burns. He wants to be a world champion. He's committed to fitting in. Those are his words, not mine."
Adams (6-7, 338) played his entire career at left tackle for the Dallas Cowboys, but the team released him in a salary-related move.
He'll now have to become accustomed to playing on the right side of the line since the Steelers don't want to move a number of players around.
"The biggest thing is that the less moving parts you have, the more efficient your offensive line is going to be," Starks said. "I think that's a great system. When you try to flip-flop guys and match guys and say you want to get the best five on the field and if I put him here and move this one over and bring this one up, you kind of break up that chemistry that we've already started and have had from the previous year. Having more of that carry over and having just one addition to the line, allows for the group to stay consistent."
(Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.)