"It's like writing with your right hand and trying to switch over and then using your left hand to write a letter," said Adams. "It's difficult, but it'll come along."
It came along surprisingly well Saturday for Adams and the rest of the Steelers' offense. The new machinery ran so smoothly, in fact, that offensive coordinator Bruce Arians called it "the best first day I've ever been a part of."
Adams, thrown on the first unit after signing with the Steelers Thursday night, was a big part of that.
"I got the playbook yesterday and studied everything I had to study for today," he said. "Now I'm going to do the same thing for tomorrow."
Arians credited right guard Trai Essex with helping Adams learn his assignments, and said "that was an easier transition than I thought it was going to be. ... (Adams) did a great job."
Adams was cut April 2 by the Cowboys, who did it more to save money than because of the way Adams had performed in the 2009 season.
"Sure, he's in decline," said a Steelers scout. "But he's no throwaway. He still has good feet, is alert, and very patient. That's one thing that really stands out is his patience."
That was evident in Adams' ability to pass off rushers to Essex while deftly picking up stunts and twists.
Does Adams have something to prove after being released by his old team?
"I'm not trying to prove anything," he said. "I'm just trying to contribute to this o-line, this team, and to bring another championship here."
Adams was part of a Cowboys team that blew a late lead at Heinz Field in 2008. The Steelers won, 20-13, in December of that Super Bowl season.
"We feel like we contributed a lot to them being a Super Bowl team," Adams said.
RASHARD OFF TO RACES
The first contact scrimmage Saturday afternoon involved nothing but the running game. And if that was symbolic of what Coach Mike Tomlin will stress this training camp, then so perhaps was the first play.
Rashard Mendenhall, at a svelte 217 pounds, cut the first carry of the scrimmage back across the field and found daylight down the left sideline for a 50-plus-yard gain.
Considering the team's offseason vow to improve the running game, is Mendenhall ready for a 250-carry type of season?
"That question will be answered over time with work and actions," said Mendenhall. "I don't really get into talking and things like that. We'll know more as it goes on."
Down eight pounds from last season, Mendenhall said he feels "light, explosive, quick, just really in good shape" after an offseason spent working on his speed and explosiveness. But he was nearly blown up himself by linebacker James Harrison later in practice after catching a pass over the middle. Mendenhall, though, bounced right back up.
"You know James," Tomlin said at the end of the day. "He probably wasn't even trying to do that."
* Harrison was on the receiving end of a vicious blow earlier in practice from fullback Frank Summers, who exploded into the outside linebacker during the run-game scrimmage.
* In the linebackers-on-tight ends drill, rookie Jason Worilds was pancaked first by Heath Miller and later by David Johnson. The other rookie linebacker, Thaddeus Gibson, enjoyed far greater success against Matt Spaeth and Sean McHugh.
* The star of the 1-on-1 drills between the offensive and defensive linemen was second-year defensive end Ziggy Hood, who whipped Trai Essex and then Maurkice Pouncey. "What a difference a year makes, right?!" exclaimed Tomlin after Hood stampeded past Pouncey.
* As for the rookie pass-rushers, Gibson scored wins in the line drills against right tackles Adams, Jonathan Scott and Ramon Foster, while Worilds only found success on the other side against Tony Hills.
* Antwaan Randle El broke off a reverse down the sideline for a long gain. The key block was made by tailback Isaac Redman, who received a deserved pat on the helmet from Tomlin.
* Pouncey impressed with the way he finished his blocks Saturday afternoon. The rookie played right guard on the second team, but received a few reps with the first team at that position in the morning practice.