View Full Version : Offensive left tackle Starks relishes high-impact, late-season games

11-29-2008, 10:02 AM
Steelers: Offensive left tackle Starks relishes high-impact, late-season games
Enjoying it to the Max
Saturday, November 29, 2008
By Robert Dvorchak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Max Starks is among the Steelers geared up for what's considered the best time of year.

It has nothing to do with holiday cheer or visions of sugar plums or taking advantage of sales at the mall. It's about the stretch run in the 16-game NFL schedule, of going head-to-head with some of the best teams in the league, of protecting a one-game lead in the division with the express purpose of securing a playoff spot.

"November and December football is what it's all about," Starks said after practice yesterday.

When a teammate interjected -- teasingly -- and asked about January and February football, Starks fended off the comment the way he has fended off pass rushers of late.

"Well, to get to January and February, you have to play well enough in November and December," he said with a laugh.

While much of the country was preoccupied with looking for bargains on the most-talked about shopping day of the year or digesting leftovers from Thanksgiving, the Steelers punched the clock on a routine workday and got ready to travel for their game Sunday against the New England Patriots.

Starks will be starting again, just as he has since Oct. 19. And forgive him if he had to do the addition in his head to verify that, yes, this is his seventh consecutive start.

Almost all the talk in the first month of the season was how the Steelers were paying him $7 million to play as a reserve on the offensive line or as the extra tight end in goal-line situations. It's a different story now that a bad back has shelved left tackle Marvel Smith, creating an opening.

"Funny how all that talk goes away, huh?" Starks mused.

It was once a hot topic of conversation that the Steelers, who let Alan Faneca go through free agency, had made Starks their highest-paid player, even though he was watching the bulk of the games from the bench. But because of uncertainty on the offensive line, the Steelers wanted to insure that they had sufficient depth. Starks just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

"That was the organization's decision," he said.

To his credit, Starks didn't mope or let it become a distraction because he wasn't starting. He bided his time as other linemen saw more action. When Smith went out with back spasms in the second half of the Jacksonville game, Starks became the man at left tackle, responsible for protecting Ben Roethlisberger's blind side.

"I was never one to say, 'Oh, I'm not playing. Woe is me.' It's not like that," Starks said. "I take pride in the fact that I'm ready to play and do whatever they ask me to do. Any time you get a chance to compete, you want to take advantage of it."

The start in Cincinnati may have been his first of the season, but it was also the 35th start of Starks' career, including Super Bowl XL. Coincidentally or not, Roethlisberger was not sacked in the game against the Bengals. And, while it would be difficult not to notice anyone who is 6 feet 8 and weighs 345 pounds, Starks hasn't called any attention to himself by committing glaring gaffes.

His assignment tomorrow against the Patriots, who have beaten the Steelers six of the past seven times they've played including two AFC championship games at Heinz Field, dovetails with the start of the homestretch. Players are schooled to say that all games are important, but the contest with the Patriots carries some extra sizzle.

"It is a little more exciting," Starks said. "The teams know each other so well. We don't like them. They don't like us."

And both teams are in the thick of the playoff hunt.

"It's why you play," Starks said. "You want to be in this position this time of year. That's why I'm here."


11-29-2008, 07:39 PM
Alrighty Maxie ol' boy, go out and play like you really deserve that $7 million. :tt02:

11-29-2008, 11:06 PM
Well at least he is actually earning some of the 7M salary. You better be up for the game tomorrow especially if Seymour plays. Bring your "A" game Max.

Galax Steeler
11-30-2008, 06:42 AM
I guess we will see what he has and if he can earn that paycheck against the patriots.

El-Gonzo Jackson
11-30-2008, 09:07 AM
Who's with me. *Looks for someone to highfive*

11-30-2008, 09:43 AM
If he can show consistency through the homestretch and in the playoffs at that position, I'd say resign him for to a three year contract. But I want CONSISTENCY. Not a good game, then a bad game.

11-30-2008, 10:38 AM
if he can play good on a reg basis i wouldn't mind him being our lt 4 a couple more yrs while we groom o-line

11-30-2008, 10:44 AM
if he can play good on a reg basis i wouldn't mind him being our lt 4 a couple more yrs while we groom o-line

Exactly, he would be a place holder. . . much in the same way I looked at Haggans and to a lesser degree, Foote.