LATROBE – The offensive line of the future took the field Saturday for the Steelers, with top draft picks David DeCastro and Mike Adams playing with the first team from stretch to final horn.
But it’s Adams who enjoyed his Saturday night the most, because the second-round pick from Ohio State appears to be the No. 1 left tackle, at least until Max Starks comes off the PUP list.
By then it could be too late to displace Adams, whom coach Mike Tomlin has apparently promoted past Trai Essex.
“Yeah, Mike’s been doing a nice job,” said Tomlin. “He’s earned those snaps, and we’ll continue to do that. But again, far from ready.”
Adams may have earned the promotion Friday night in downtown Latrobe when he frustrated his old college teammate Cameron Heyward to the point where Heyward came up swinging after Adams clearly had gotten the better of him.
The two former Buckeyes went at it before Willie Colon pulled Heyward away, and then those two scuffled with Colon squaring up and punching Heyward flush in the face mask.
Colon, playing on an ankle that had been rolled up on a few plays earlier, left the practice and also missed Saturday’s practice. He’s considered day-to-day as Ramon Foster moved from right guard to left guard, and first-round pick DeCastro played right guard.
Colon will reclaim his job and DeCastro will continue to battle Ramon Foster for the right guard job.
Adams, though, can say the first-team left tackle job is his – at least for now.
“Having this older group of guys here is definitely something that’s helping me out,” Adams explained. “If I don’t get something they remind me of things on the field. Overall the learning process hasn’t been too bad.”
What about the fight with his old teammate?
“It’s all football, man,” Adams said. “Football’s a vicious game. When stuff like that happens usually it’s in the heat of the moment, heat of the battle. The trenches are a real crazy place.”
GOAL LINE: PARADISE LOST
The Steelers held their annual goal-line drill and the defense was declared the winner of the best-of-seven series of snaps from the 1½-yard line.
The offense only scored one touchdown on the ground – a leap to the top of a mass of bodies by John Clay, who was stopped and then thrust the ball over the line. The offense needed a rare play-action pass from Byron Leftwich to Leonard Pope after a timeout on third down for its other touchdown.
Play-action passes are considered the easy, even unmanly, way out, and the offense even tried it a second time, but Weslye Saunders couldn’t catch up to Charlie Batch’s pass.
What about those play-action passes? Doesn’t that go against the tradition of the drill?
“Yeah, we feel like that’s a win for us,” said defensive end Brett Keisel.
Isn’t the offense trying to establish a physical mindset here?
“Yeah,” Keisel said. “But a couple years ago the offense did a play-action pass and I was the tight end and I caught a touchdown. On that side it’s all right.”
INJURIES AND BEN
Several first-teamers sat out the goal-line drill, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who left on a high note after throwing a touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders during the red-zone period.
Roethlisberger limped off the field, had ice applied to his left ankle, and sat out the final 15 minutes of practice.
“He’s fine. Somebody stepped on his foot,” Tomlin said. And after a pause Tomlin added: “You guys love the Ben updates.”
As previously mentioned Colon missed practice, as did RB Isaac Redman (groin), Jimmy Young (rib) and Jeremy Kapinos (back). Colon and Redman are considered day-to-day.
LaMarr Woodley dressed again but again did not participate.
Injuring their ankles during Saturday’s practice were LBs Ryan Baker and Brandon Johnson. Tomlin will have more information on their status Sunday afternoon.
Tomlin on Clay, who’s listed at 248 pounds:
“He’s playing to his size, which is good. It’s one thing to be a big back; it’s another thing to play with that demeanor. And when given the opportunity he’s shown that he’s playing with that demeanor, which is a good thing not only in the goal line but I thought he did a nice job in short-yardage.”