PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Mike Adams will play football again, perhaps as early as late July when the team reports for training camp.
Yet his teammates say the late-night assault the 23-year-old endured early Saturday morning in the city’s South Side district should serve as a warning about the dangers of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, even if you are 6-foot-7 and 345 pounds.
“There ain’t nobody who’s too big,” Steelers linebacker Larry Foote said. “Once you’ve got a weapon involved, everybody’s the same size then.”
Adams underwent surgery after sustaining stab wounds to his leg and forearm during an attempted carjacking. His recovery time is expected to last 6-8 weeks, meaning he will miss the final week of organized team activities and next week’s minicamp.
Police arrested suspects Dquay Means, 26, and Michael Paranay, 25, on Monday and charged them with attempted homicide, aggravated assault and conspiracy. The search for a third suspect is ongoing and Foote hopes the crime leads city officials to up the police presence in the popular bar district not far from the team’s headquarters.
Foote added he thinks the incident should serve as a wakeup call for players to “be aware of their surroundings” and avoid questionable areas at night.
“I would say that nothing ever good happens after 12 o’clock,” Foote said. “But you should be able to be safe. You shouldn’t be alone, and stuff happens. This is the type of world we live in today.”
Adams is penciled in as the starting right tackle but will be spelled by second-year lineman Kelvin Beachum while he rehabs. It’s not exactly the way Beachum wanted to get back to his old job. Beachum started five games at right tackle at the end of the 2012 season when Adams was sidelined with an ankle injury.
The Steelers plan to use him as a utility lineman this year and even have him taking snaps at center. He’s currently on hiatus from that job, however, as he handles Adams’ usual post. The two are good friends and Beachum allowed he was shaken by the crime.
“It’s been difficult this week with him not here,” Beachum said.
The two have locker stalls next to each other and leaned on one another during a sometimes bumpy 2012 as a series of injuries to the line forced them to quickly adapt to new roles. Beachum impressed the coaching staff so much the Steelers opted to let Doug Legursky — who started at center in the 2011 Super Bowl — walk as a free agent.
Beachum has spent time with former Pittsburgh lineman Tunch Ilkin to get comfortable at different spots along the line. That includes snapping the ball for the first time in his life.
“You do some things, just messing around, but not taking it as seriously as I’m taking it right now,” Beachum said. “So, that’s my biggest challenge, and I’m attacking it.”
All that moving around can get confusing yet Beachum understands finding a way to be versatile is the key to extending his NFL career. He made the final cut last summer as a seventh-round pick out of SMU, where he was a four-year starter. His 6-2, 303-pound frame is perhaps better suited to the interior line and he’s trying to get comfortable working in a confined space.
“It takes some thinking, but like Coach (Mike) Tomlin says, if you know things and understand what you’re doing, you won’t have to think,” Beachum said. “So, it’s all about getting to that point where there’s no thinking involved. It’s just playing.”
Something the Steelers are eager to get back to, Adams included. Center Maurkice Pouncey spent time with Adams in the hospital and called the near-miss a “blessing.”
“Even Mike said that the angel was with him that day,” Pouncey said, “and everybody knows he was a really blessed kid to stay alive.”
NOTES: The Steelers signed seventh-round pick Nick Williams to a four-year deal on Tuesday. Williams spent four years at defensive end for Southern University, playing in 40 career games with 66 tackles and eight sacks. Only QB Landry Jones, a fourth-round pick, remains unsigned ... The team will continue OTAs today before concluding the sessions with a workout at Heinz Field on Thursday.