Though it has seemed obvious for the past three weeks, Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive coordinator Todd Haley confirmed that Chris Hubbard is the team’s backup tackle.
“Hubs, we’ve been getting him in at tight end. He’s also our backup center,” Haley told Bob Labriola in Steelers’ Nation Radio’s weekly Coordinator’s Corner.
“He’s kind of taking the place of where Beachum was early in his career.”
Haley also touched on Byron Stingily, signed by the team after Kelvin Beachum was placed on injured reserve, but has yet to be active, saying he has been “coming along.”
“I think as long as Hub is getting the helmet on Sunday, he’s the guy we got to count on.”
Hubbard played seven snaps as the extra lineman Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. While Haley didn’t mention it specifically, it would make sense that Hubbard is only the backup right tackle. Should Alejandro Villanueva miss time, Marcus Gilbert is likely to slide over to the left side.
He has never played tackle in a regular season game, and has spent most of his career along the interior, but Hubbard was a right tackle during his college career at UAB. It would still seem to be a scary scenario to envision Hubbard at right tackle in an NFL game, but the team seems comfortable with him and, as they have with so many other linemen in the past – highly value his versatility. He can essentially play every spot except for left tackle and that makes him worthy of getting a helmet on Sunday.
It would be interesting to see if Stingily ever takes Doug Legursky’s hat. Hubbard is the backup at every spot along the interior, even center as Haley confirmed, giving Legursky a limited role. Stingily would offer left tackle capability if the team wanted to keep Marcus Gilbert on the right side, where he’s excelled all season long. And when it can be avoided, moving pieces to cover up for an injury is not ideal and only risks confusion.