Tomlin makes necessary changes

PITTSBURGH -- Coach Mike Tomlin couldn’t make sweeping changes after the Steelers went winless in September due to the limitations of a 53-man roster.

The two switches Tomlin has settled on make the most sense as the Steelers try to dig out from their first 0-4 start since 1968.

Left tackle Mike Adams had to sit for his sake as much as that of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Adams was abused by Vikings defensive end Jared Allen on Sept. 29, and his continued struggles could have had long-term ramifications.

Adams has lost his confidence, and he needs to take a step back if his career as a left tackle is to be salvaged, as both the Steelers and Roethlisberger believe it can be.

Tomlin didn’t just send a message to Adams by dropping him behind Kelvin Beachum and Levi Brown on the depth chart. He also challenged the Steelers’ 2012 second-round draft pick.

“The most important thing is not maybe what’s happened to him at this point. It’s how he responds to it and moves forward,” Tomlin said of Adams. “I think it’s going to have an opportunity to define him and his career. There’s a lot of solid professional players that have been through ups and downs, demotions and so forth, and the guys that show staying power are the guys that respond appropriately, that roll their sleeves up and go to work.”

The Steelers have never had a problem with Ziggy Hood’s willingness to work. But five years into his NFL career he still isn’t much more than a serviceable defensive end.

And the Steelers had much higher hopes for Hood when they thought they got a steal by taking him with the final first-round pick in the 2009 draft.

They didn’t sign Hood to a new deal prior to the season starting, something they usually do with those they have identified as core players who are going to the final year of their contract.

Cameron Heyward, meanwhile, has emerged in his third NFL season, and he has the look of a long-term anchor along the defensive line.

The Steelers’ first-round pick in 2012 is second on the team with nine quarterback hurries despite playing limited snaps, and Tomlin had to get Heyward on the field more.

“I think he’s been really solid and not taking anything away from Ziggy,” Tomlin said. “Obviously both guys will continue to play. We just want Cam to play more than he’s been playing.”