Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Starks Reality: He Hopes to Play before Regular Season

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Starks Reality: He Hopes to Play before Regular Season

Article excerpt

Max Starks is accustomed to quick turnarounds and baptism by fire. He just isn't sure when the next round of such events will be.

All of a sudden, his return from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament -- sustained in the January playoff loss in Denver -- has become a bigger issue after rookie left tackle Mike Adams' rocky start in the Steelers' preseason opener.

But it probably won't be an issue for Starks, who, at 30, is the old man in the offensive line. Last year, four days after being re- signed because injuries had decimated their offensive line, Starks started against Tennessee and looked as though he never had been away.

The Steelers rushed for 174 yards, their second-highest total of the season, and Ben Roethlisberger had time to throw five touchdowns in an easy victory against the Titans.

Starks might have to do that again, only this time in the season opener in Denver. Still, he would prefer to get a little preseason warmup before he does.

"I didn't need it last year," said Starks, who is on the physically-unable-to-perform list and cannot practice until he is removed from it. "But this is a new offense. It's a lot more confusing than I thought it would be. It's the same stuff, but the names [of the plays] and the way it's called is different. I'm always going, 'Oh, this play is old such-and-such.' "

Starks has started 80 games for the Steelers in his eight years with the team and would be lending a lot of experience to a line that will start center Maurkice Pouncey, who turned 23 last month; second-year right tackle Marcus Gilbert and likely rookie David DeCastro at right guard.

But he is coming off ACL surgery and wasn't re-signed by the team until the week before training camp, leading many to assume that Adams, a No. 2 draft choice, was being handed the left-tackle job.

But, after giving up two sacks in his first 17 snaps in the preseason opener Thursday night in Philadelphia,

Adams might have to wait a little longer. What's more, he sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee on his second allowed sack and likely will be sidelined at least two weeks.

Enter Starks. …

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