Position preview: Offensive tackle

This is the next in a series that look at every position on offense and defense with training camp approaching. Our fifth look is at offensive tackle.

Returning starters: Kelvin Beachum and Marcus Gilbert. Beachum stabilized left tackle after Mike Adams floundered there in the first four games last season, and it is his position to lose heading into training camp. Gilbert started every game last season at right tackle and was the only Steelers’ offensive lineman to start every game in 2013.

On the bubble: Guy Whimper. A lot would have to happen for the 6-foot-5, 318-pounder not to make the team. Whimper proved to be a dependable reserve last season, and he has the flexibility to play inside as well. Whimper could be competing with rookie Wesley Johnson, a fifth-round draft pick, if the Steelers keep only eight offensive linemen when they finalize their 53-man roster.

By the numbers: Ben Roethlisberger got sacked 24 times in the 11 games that Beachum started at left tackle last season. He was dropped 18 times in the five games that Adams started at the position.

Did you know: The Steelers averaged 124 rushing yards in the six games that Adams started at right tackle as a rookie in 2012. Their season rushing average was 96.1 yards.

Quotable: “I’m not a big-frame guy. I never have been. I’m not a 320- or 330-type of offensive lineman. I know I have to keep my weight down, keep my body fat down, stay lean, stay fast, use technique. That’s something that I’ve used since college and have to continue to fine-tune that. I think with the addition of Coach [Mike] Munchak, technique is really going to be a thing that he focuses on and makes sure that we do a good job of.” -- Beachum

Outlook: It will be interesting to see where Adams gets to compete for a starting job at training camp. Beachum is not a prototypical left tackle but the 2012 seventh-round pick got the job done there last season. Adams has played considerably better at right tackle and Gilbert is going into the final year of his contract. Whoever is the odd man out at tackle as far as starting should give the Steelers a quality reserve there.