Montravius Adams seemed reluctant to go so far to say his late-season stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers last year saved his NFL career.
But the defensive lineman is willing to admit his six-game tenure with the Steelers has his career positioned in a more ideal place.
“Definitely better than it was,” Adams said with a wide smile. “Definitely better than it was.”
Where Adams’ career was before his Nov. 30 signing by the Steelers was as a player who’d been cut twice over the previous three months and was joining his fourth team over a nine-month span.
But a steady 198 snaps (including playoffs) over six games (four starts) in which he had a sack, 10 tackles and four QB hits showed the Steelers enough that they brought him back with a two-year, $5 million contract to play a significant part of the rotation on their interior defensive line.
“I haven’t felt that family feel since I left Auburn,” said #Steelers DE Montravius Adams. And this is the place (with the Steelers) where I feel that. You know, as a player, you don’t want to lose that.”@C_AdamskiTrib https://t.co/Getgc4vp20
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“Montravius did a great job learning our stuff on the run coming in late last year,” Steelers defensive line coach Karl Dunbar said. “He’s a very athletic kid. He can hold the point, he can run. Me, as a coach, I’m looking forward to seeing all the competition, these guys trying to get better and help us be a better defense.”
Dunbar said Adams was competing with veteran Tyson Alualu to be the No. 1 nose tackle. The Steelers will need 4-5 bodies to supplement All-Pro Cameron Heyward on the defensive line.
Adams joins Alualu, Chris Wormley, Isaiahh Loudermilk and rookie DeMarvin Leal as the most likely candidates to play in addition to Heyward. Others are in the mix, too, but after getting a signing bonus of almost $1.5 million, Adams’ roster spot would appear to be safe.
After his nomadic year, Adams sounds thrilled to find a home.
“To me, Pittsburgh has really been a blessing for my life, mentally and physically,” he said after a minicamp practice last week. “I can’t ask for nothing better.”
Why were the Steelers such a good fit?
“It was a little bit of everything,” Adams said. “The coaches, just to learn from them, to the city, the people, my players, my teammates.”
A third-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2017 (taken a spot ahead of Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton), Adams said he rarely had played nose tackle as a pro until he arrived in Pittsburgh late in his fifth NFL season. But with the Steelers depleted by injury on the interior line, they turned to Adams, who ended up being a good fit.
“I was always really a three-technique end (lined up between the offense’s guard and tackle) — but the Steelers offered the opportunity (to play nose) and I wasn’t going to turn it down,” Adams said. “Me, personally, I felt like I still had it — and shoot, if they believed in it, I will believe in it, too.”
At a listed weight of 304 pounds, the 6-foot-3 Adams has shown a willingness and ability to play at any spot along the Steelers defensive line, be it the nose or end in the base or one of the two tackle spots in nickel/dime.
After the retirement of Stephon Tuitt, there is a starting spot open, although Wormley filled in for Tuitt most of last season after Alualu’s season ended because of a broken ankle in Week 2.
In practice, though, the Steelers (like most teams) rotate players on the line and ask them to do different tasks in different situations. Adams would seem capable of doing that.
“We interchange and we’re able to play multiple positions, so why can’t I play anywhere?” Adams said. “Why make myself less valuable?
“Against certain teams or on certain downs, they might want me in more. Whatever helps the team win, it don’t matter to me. I want to win at the end of the day, and I want to win a lot.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .