Todd Haley gave Chris Hubbard his due and again spoke to how well he’s played in Marcus Gilbert’s three game absence. But Haley is overjoyed to have his starting right tackle back.
And he heaped a ton of praise on the job Gilbert has done over the last two years.
“[Gilbert] one of the top five, in my opinion, the best right tackle in the league last year,” Haley said via Steelers.com. “And that’s with certainty from what I’ve seen.”
Gilbert had a tremendous season in 2015, playing at an All-Pro or Pro Bowl level though he was not officially included on either list. According to our charting, Gilbert allowed only 1.5 sacks in the entire regular season, the fewest of any Steelers’ offensive lineman.
2016 got off to a rockier start after suffering ligament damage in his elbow during the preseason. He played through the pain, probably needing surgery after the season, before being sidelined by an ankle injury in Week Four against the Kansas City Chiefs. He’s set to return this week, not even listed on the team’s injury report.
“Anytime you got a chance to get your five back and together I think it’s a positive for us,” Haley said.
Through the first 3.5 games, Gilbert had already given up 1.5 sacks but his play was still generally very good. He’s likely to be spared from seeing Elvis Dumervil, someone who has given him lots of problems in the past, and will instead often matchup against Za’Darius Smith, who has yet to register a sack this season.
Not known as a mauling run blocker, his strength and size will still be a key to try and generate a push against one of the toughest run defenses in the NFL. Baltimore allows the fifth fewest yards per carry and second fewest rushing touchdowns.