Starks anxious to seize opportunity
By Mike Prisuta
Tuesday, August 2, 2005
Max Starks understands what's expected of him in his sophomore season with the Steelers.
Starks' response was to report to St. Vincent College ready to answer the challenge.
"It's real now," Starks said. "It's training camp. It's preseason. Now, it's time to prove that I deserve to be a starter.
"It was the same thing in college when I had a similar situation. I was a backup my first year, then I had an opportunity to start at right tackle my sophomore year. This is a very, very great opportunity for me and I don't want to pass that opportunity up."
The opportunity exists because right tackle Oliver Ross, who entered camp last year confronting questions about his ability to hold down right tackle on a full-time basis, parlayed a solid season into a free-agent contract with the Arizona Cardinals.
Enter Starks, a former third-round pick in 2004 who started slowly as a rookie, but progressed from appearing regularly on the inactive list to a role in short-yardage packages and on the placekicking team over the final 10 regular-season games of 2004 and in the playoffs.
The Steelers list Starks at 337 pounds, just as they did a year ago.
But Starks maintains he's heavier and, at the same time, more streamlined, registering 5 percent less body fat.
"I put on more lean body mass," Starks said. "It's about a 5-to-7-pound difference from last year."
Starks reshaped himself by spending six weeks training in Arizona under the supervision of Athletes Performance, the same collection of experts that helped prepare Starks for the National Scouting Combine prior to his draft year.
He considers himself ready, willing and able from a physical standpoint entering his second NFL training camp.
"It's more of a mental aspect at this point, get down the nuances, the technical things, and get down that bond you need on the offensive line, get used to the chemistry between the other four guys," Starks said.
He's ready to start hitting someone as well, an activity Starks and his teammates will commence today.
"I've been waiting for it," he said. "It's an itch I've been trying to scratch and I haven't been able to scratch it yet. The next couple of days I'll get that opportunity."