When the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted both David DeCastro and Mike Adams in the first two rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft, it looked like they were nabbing a pair of young studs to not only start this season, but anchor their offensive line for the years to come.
However, in what has become the Year of the Injury for the Steelers, both rookies were among the first casualties, both going down in the preseason.
DeCastro remains out and while Adams has been healthy, the preseason injury has delayed his progress.
But the Ohio State product will get the chance to show what he’s made of Sunday night when he is thrown into the fire against the Cincinnati Bengals in what is a must-win divisional game for the Steelers.
Adams will replace injured right tackle Marcus Gilbert, who will be out several weeks with a torn tendon in his ankle. Adams will be tested often by a Bengals defense that leads the AFC in sacks with 20.
The season got off to a rough start for the 6’7″ 323-pound rookie as he was abused by Denver’s Von Miller in the season opener, but his play has come along as of late, even playing three quarters against Tennessee last Thursday as the line allowed only one sack in 40 pass attempts.
However all eyes will be on him Sunday as he will need to step up and perform well in both run blocking and pass protection.
The Steelers are only averaging 3.0 yards per carry, worst in the NFL and if they are throwing the ball a lot, Adams must do a good job keeping quarterback Ben Roethlisberger upright. Fifteen of the Bengals 20 sacks on the season have come from their defensive line, so they are a unit that can apply pressure.
However Adams should have some confidence as he’s not new to game action and is coming off a pretty solid performance against Tennessee.
We will find out Sunday if that confidence turns into good offensive line play.