Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Justin Gilbert hasn’t played much so far this since being acquired via a September trade with the Cleveland Browns. With that said, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin indicated in a recent interview with Bob Labriola that the former first-round draft pick is still “very much” in the team’s plans moving forward.
“You often cannot see it, because of the nature of position he’s in. He’s the No. 4 cornerback right now,” Tomlin said. “The fourth corner is primarily a special-teamer until something happens to one of three guys, and then the fourth corner is playing about 45 snaps a game. I routinely have that conversation with him, and I’ll tell Steelers Nation that.
“His progress has been very good. He’s improving every day. He’s getting the detail required to be a positive contributor to our efforts. If anything happens to one of three guys, and that’s the interesting thing about the fourth corner position, he can become an every-down football player. And the same thing could occur with Justin. He’s been working diligently on a daily basis, and when he gets an opportunity I’m sure he’ll be excited to show the people what he’s capable of.”
Gilbert has been playing more on special teams as of late but with that said, he’s not being used very often as a kick returner. As far as his limited defensive contributions go so far this season, the bulk of his snaps came in the Steelers Week 4 win over the Kansas City Chiefs when Gilbert was asked to match up against their tight end Travis Kelce.
As Tomlin indicated, Gilbert will likely need an injury to occur for him to start seeing the field more on the defensive side of the football. Thursday night, the Steelers will play the Indianapolis Colts and being as they like to use a lot of two tight end personnel groups, Gilbert is probably destined to only see the field on special teams once again.
While we certainly wouldn’t expect Tomlin to have anything negative to say about Gilbert, it does sound like he’s making some sort of progress when it comes to how he’s practicing.