By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — Kelvin Beachum, the hardest-working Pittsburgh Steelers player, was on the move again during Tuesday’s organized team activity, and the second-year offensive lineman couldn’t be more thrilled.
Beachum, who played seven games with five straight starts at right tackle as a rookie in 2012, was back at that position after working primarily as a guard and center during the opening two weeks of OTA practices. Beachum replaced starter Mike Adams, who was injured recently during an off-field incident.
“It was unfortunate,” Beachum said Tuesday. “(Adams) is a great man and a good friend. He’s my locker roommate. I also sit by him in team meetings. So, it’s been difficult this week with him not here, but I know that he’s going to make a full recovery. God has blessed him. So, I’m happy to see him recover, and I’m happy to see him get better. And I’m just looking for him to improve.
“(But) it’s a good opportunity for me. I’ve been getting a lot of work, a lot of reps, and I’m taking everything in stride. It’s good, and I’m being accountable for every rep I’m getting, so I need to make sure that every rep is as perfect as can be. So, it’s one of those things where I’m working on being accountable and taking responsibility (for) what the Steelers have given me so far.”
The 6-foot-3, 306-pound Beachum, who was drafted to play guard, appeared to be slated to play there this year. However, since Doug Legursky was not re-signed, Beachum has been getting the reps at center to back up Maurkice Pouncey. The other center on the roster is Pitt and Franklin Regional High School product John Malecki, who primarily has been a practice-squad player.
With the work at center under his belt now, Beachum has had time at all five spots on the offensive line.
“You learn the playbook, and you have to learn it from every point of view so that when they throw you in at a certain position you can be ready,” Beachum said. “Once they call your name, you’ll be ready to go in and make an impact.
“It takes some thinking, but like Coach Tomlin says if you know things and understand what you’re doing, you won’t have to think. So, it’s all about getting to that point where there’s no thinking involved. It’s just playing.”
The most difficult spot for Beachum has been center, mostly because he barely fooled around with the position before, let alone work on it in practice.
“To be honest, it’s all about snapping,” Beachum said. “That’s one thing that I’ve been working on before practice, after practice, at home, on the weekends, just snapping the ball and doing it consistently. So, that’s my challenge right now. … You do some things, just messing around, but not taking it as seriously as I’m taking it right now.
“So, that’s my biggest challenge, and I’m attacking it. I’m getting better at it, since the first day that I was out here. So, I’m getting better, and I was a little more consistent today than I was during the past two weeks. So, I have to keep working at it, take one day at a time and continue to get better.”
Beachum isn’t a small man, by any means, but he would be better-suited to play on the interior rather than at tackle. But on the inside, he could have somebody who’s huge on top of him.
That prospect apparently didn’t faze Beachum, who worked extensively with the coaches and some teammates after practice. He even did some individual work with second-year guard David DeCastro, the Steelers No. 1 pick last year. Beachum also has been tutored by former Steelers lineman Tunch Ilkin.
“It’s working out,” Beachum said. “It’s getting better. My hand speed and all those things are starting to improve. Me and Dave, you saw us out there, just working on the things that he left for us. So, we’ve been working on it.”
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Pouncey noted that he and some teammates spent some time this week with Adams at Mercy Hospital, “just to hang out with him,” and he was happy to get the company of his teammates.
“We just wanted to join him,” Pouncey said. “You could be anywhere, man. It could happen to anybody. You never know when things happen in this world, and sometimes you just have to deal with it. It happened to Mike.
“And we’re just hoping he gets better soon. (But) it’s a blessing (that it’s not worse). Even Mike said that the angel was with him that day, and everybody knows he was a really blessed kid to stay alive.”
Veteran inside linebacker Larry Foote wasn’t averse to staying out late when he was in his youth, but as a devout family man now he had this advice.
“I would say that nothing ever good happens after 12 o’clock, but you should be able to be safe,” Foote said. “You shouldn’t be alone, and stuff happens. This is the type of world we live in today. Bad people come out late at night. Those are just the rules of the game, and guys have to be aware of that.
“I ain’t been out since the ’80s. The only time I go out is to get a gallon of milk late at night. The night life, being young and going out, sometimes you can be at the wrong place at the wrong time. So, my advice to everybody would be to get prayed up, and the Good Lord will take care of you.”
Foote also noted that this type of incident could happen anywhere to anybody.
“It’s going on all over the country, and my advice would be don’t be out alone,” Foote said. “Be in areas where they’re safe. Jack and them (Steelers security director Jack Kearney) do a great job telling guys where to go and where not to go. I just think the city needs to do more policing down there, which I’m quite sure they will.”
Final Notes: The Steelers practice Wednesday at their regular facility, but move to Heinz Field for Thursday’s final OTA. Mini-camp next Tuesday-Thursday closes out the spring practice sessions.