Training camp has ended, and the Pittsburgh Steelers have reverted back to taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While training camp might have seen a lot of work put into the team and the roster, there is plenty left to be done.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well, since training camp is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is really one that lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the preseason looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they head into a regular season in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Question: How significant will Marcus Gilbert’s elbow injury prove to be over the course of the 2016 season?
You may have noticed or read that Steelers sixth-year starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert has been dealing with an elbow injury that he suffered in the last preseason game. it is said that he hyperextended the elbow, which is a tricky situation.
Often, it is the sort of injury that one can play through, and that is of course what Gilbert has already vowed to do, proclaiming that he will be there on the first snap of the season. This is coming off the first season in his career in which he basically was able to play every snap.
Gilbert has had a long injury history in his first six seasons, to be sure, ending up on injured reserve his second season and suffering a variety of injuries elsewhere. He has dealt with a number of ankle injuries, in particular, but he is also in the best shape of his life.
His propensity for injury, however, is no longer the issue at hand, and is it now what sort of performance that he can deliver at less than 100 percent. He played through a significant ankle injury during the 2013 season, making every start but missing a large number of snaps in between, and his performance clearly suffered.
Now, an elbow injury is not going to slow down his footwork, but it will certainly be a trial to try to seal the edge in the run game and contest some of the elite pass rushers in the league with a damaged wing. Gilbert’s 2015 performance was worth of strong Pro Bowl consideration; could he repeat that sort of performance while injured?
It’s hard to imagine so, though he should still be able to play at a sufficiently high level for the offense to run smoothly. Hopefully we will get our first look at the answer in action on Monday night against Washington.