On Monday, it was announced that Pittsburgh Steelers starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert has been suspended for the team’s next four games for violating the NFL’s PED policy and while that news is somewhat concerning on the surface, at least he should be back well within time for the start of playoffs. If you are an optimistic person, there is a bright side to the latest news.
For starters, the Steelers have already won quite a few games without Gilbert this season as the tackle as already missed five full games and good parts of two others due to a hamstring injury that he originally suffered in the team’s Week 2 contest against the Minnesota Vikings. In short, while Gilbert’s replacement Chris Hubbard probably isn’t going to the Pro Bowl this year for his play this season at right tackle, he’s been very serviceable just the same.
The four games that Gilbert will miss include the Steelers playing the Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots. The Steelers have already beaten the Bengals and Ravens without Gilbert and thus there’s no reason to think they can’t repeat those accomplishments in Weeks 13 and 14 without him again.
Not having Gilbert this coming Sunday night against the Packers also shouldn’t be a big deal as the Steelers should still be expected to win that game easily without him. That leaves the Steelers Week 15 home game against the Patriots as potentially the one the Steelers might miss Gilbert the most.
Gilbert’s four game suspension will also give the tackle some extra time to make sure his injured hamstring gets fully healed and strengthened. Assuming he returns for the Steelers Week 16 road game against the Houston Texans, Gilbert can then use that contest as well as the regular season finale against the Cleveland Browns to knock whatever rust he might have off in preparation for what we all hope is a very long playoff run.
In the meantime, Hubbard resuming as the Steelers starting right tackle will hopefully give him more opportunities to sharpen his play a little should he ultimately be needed again after Gilbert returns from his suspension.
Keep in mind that while Gilbert is probably currently regarded as one of the NFL”s best right tackles, he’s only played 219 offensive snaps so far this season. In short, the Steelers can win at least three of their next four games without him and possibly all four if the team’s defense can find a way to stop Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
On a final note, Gilbert’s four game suspension now makes it very easy for the Steelers to accommodate rookie cornerback Cameron Sutton on the 53-man roster as a player will not need to be waived for his return from the team’s Reserve/Injured list.