Steelers: Adams, Villanueva battle for backup spot
For those of you who are interested in news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line, Chris Bradford of The Beaver County Times reported the following over the weekend:
That’s correct, second-team left tackle Alejandro Villanueva received playing time at right tackle. Take it for what you will, Steelers fans, but this is an intriguing piece of news when one considers the fact that Mike Adams remains on the team’s PUP list.
Villanueva, who was inked to the team’s practice squad last fall, has shown signs of improvement this preseason and possesses the tools to be an effective backup at this stage of his NFL career. This is not good news for the injured Adams; particularly since the Steelers only carried three offensive tackles on their 53-man roster in 2014.
The more reps and versatility which Villanueva can illustrate over the course of the preseason, the better his chances are to earn the top backup spot behind Kelvin Beachum and Marcus Gilbert. Currently nursing a back injury, Adams will be at a disadvantage until he can see the field and compete with the former Army Black Knight.
While the Steelers can certainly carry four offensive tackles this fall, one has to wonder if they will part ways with their second round pick from the 2013 NFL Draft. Villanueva is far from a finished product on the field and definitely needs to work on anchoring, his bend and punch. However, his growth as a prospect coupled with recent versatility could make Adams expendable by the time the preseason ends.
There is no doubt that Adams has the clear advantage in the professional game experience department (2012-2014: 41 games and 20 starts). Yet his on-field issues and current absence could make him somebody the team could try to replace. It will be interesting to see where Villanueva lines up during Pittsburgh’s next three games, and I am intrigued as ever to see who is determined to be the best backup at the position when the preseason concludes.
Next: Steelers: Can Sammie Coates make the final roster?
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