Labriola on preseason opener

PHILADELPHIA – It was only the preseason opener, but it seems as though this one game that doesn't even count in the standings has settled the competition to be the starting left tackle for the start of the regular season, which for the Steelers will come on Sunday night, Sept. 9, in Denver.

Unfortunately, this really wasn't what they had in mind.

Last April, the Steelers spent their first two draft picks on a couple of offensive linemen they hoped could help re-make the unit into one that was more exclamation point than question mark. David DeCastro and Mike Adams were seen as the kinds of talents who could do for guard and tackle, respectively, what Maurkice Pouncey had done for center three summers ago.

For their preseason opener, which came last night against the Eagles here, the Steelers' top two draft picks were in the starting lineup, albeit for different reasons. DeCastro was at right guard only because left guard Willie Colon was out with an ankle injury and Ramon Foster had to slide over from the right side to fill that spot. Adams, on the other hand, had done enough in practices to earn the start against the Eagles.

What began with such promise ended with disappointment, because before the first quarter of the game against the Eagles was over, Adams had allowed two sacks and was knocked out of the game with an injury to his right knee.

Adams' injury wasn't the most disappointing aspect of the Steelers' 24-23 defeat by the Eagles – that designation would belong to David Johnson's knee injury that was termed "severe" by Coach Mike Tomlin – but it does seem to have ended Adams' hopes to be the starting left tackle in Denver.

It's not believed that Adams will require surgery, but the couple of weeks he seems destined to miss while rehabbing will put him too far behind to catch up in time for the opener.

All of a sudden, Max Starks, who was signed shortly before the opening of training camp and is still on the physically unable to perform list with a knee injury of his own, is the team's best option at left tackle.

Once again, it's going to have to be Max Starks to the rescue.

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