‘The Rookies’ got their jersey numbers on Monday. Perusing the long form roster, we can all heave a large sigh as #86 has not been re-issued already. I’m hoping the Steelers leave that one off the boards for a few years for those who had a soul and cherished our beloved Ward. But as I scanned the list, I noticed that Max Starks and that #78 were missing from that roster. Got me thinking – will we ever see that name again with that number?
Couple nights ago, @SteelersAddict on Twitter asked if the Steelers should make sure to bring back Starks now that they drafted Mike Adams. I emphatically replied ‘YES!’ And I mean it with all that twittered gusto. Bring back Starks, let he and Colon, Gilbert and Adams all duke it out during camp. The Steelers will be better for whomever comes out on top. It’s a win win for the Steelers. Of course this is working under the assumption that Starks is healthy enough for camp. But even if he is not, there is always the ever popular PUP list that will already be filled with stars like Mendenhall. Should Starks come back but not be ready, he could always ride the PUP list for 6 weeks and not count as a roster spot until those 6 weeks are up. Worth undertaking? I think so.
But will the Steelers bring Starks back? On paper, aside from their experience, Adams has some speed and arm length over Starks. I don’t think Adams will be the guy to start, but we would all be about as foolish as Cleveland Browns fans to think that the Steelers won’t groom him to hit that line as soon as possible. So what is Starks’ worth in the meantime? Not sure what kind of teaching license #78 has these days, but he could be one of the best teaching tools for the Steelers to use for a guy like Adams. But sometimes we know that the Steelers can walk away from a valuable tool like that for their younger players (see Release of Hines Ward). There is also the scenario that Willie Colon can stay healthy enough to make it onto the practice field in Latrobe this summer. We haven’t seen
any playing time from this guy for some time. Will he be any good still after back to back season ending injuries?
I still feel that the Steelers need to bring back Starks for at least camp if not longer. He will be a good asset to the team – whether a starter or a backup. And the Steelers know better than anyone you can’t have too many offensive linemen waiting on the sidelines. In fact, Starks is well worth the roster spot for just that trend. Also, with all the other changes taking place this offseason by acquiring new OC Todd Haley, Big Ben might need his ‘best bud’ for some bro love on the sidelines when things get tough.
Could we see the #78 jersey in Latrobe this season? Maybe. But, it might be on Roethlisberger’s back again….
For the record and future: Jonathan Scott will NEVER enter a post when discussing the Steelers offensive line for next season. He is as good as out, and good riddance along with Kemoeatu.
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