Even though he practiced all last week, Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Marcus Gilbert did not dress for the Sunday game against the Atlanta Falcons. During his Tuesday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin indicated that while Gilbert didn’t suffer any sort of a setback with his ankle injury last week, he still wasn’t deemed healthy enough to play against the Falcons.
“We just watched his participation over the course of the week like we outline every week and we say we’ll let their participation over the course of the week be our guide,” said Tomlin. “We allowed him to participate, we watched that participation and it wasn’t above the line from a health standpoint. And we had been getting quality work from Mike Adams, who is healthy, so we decided to go with the healthy hand.”
Tomlin was then asked if Gilbert will be the starting right tackle when he is fully healthy and his response was a bit curious.
“Again, we’ll go through the same process this week. We’ll let participation be our guide,” said Tomlin. “Obviously, he’ll be given an opportunity to display that and we’ll let what he does be our guide like it was last week.”
The Steelers have really missed having Gilbert in the lineup this season and it’s been really noticeable in the running game. In the four games that Mike Adams has started this season at right tackle, the Steelers ran to the right side 42 times for 119 yards (2.83). Conversely, in the nine games that Gilbert started and finished this season, the Steelers ran to the right side 80 times for 430 yards (5.38).
Prior to the start of the season the Steelers gave Gilbert a five-year, $30 million contract extension. They didn’t give him that new deal to serve as a swing tackle, so it’s obvious that he will be back in the starting lineup as soon as he’s healthy.
As far as Tomlin’s curious response on Tuesday, I think he just wanted to let Gilbert know that he needs to show a little more in practice from a health standpoint before he’s allowed to get back on the field again. Hopefully that happens this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.