Last week I wrote about Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert and how the 2018 season is a crucial one for him due to him missing so much time last season due to injuries and a suspension. As if on cue. Gilbert talked about the upcoming season a few days ago and where his focus is currently at.
“I don’t have anything to prove to myself. I just know that if I stay healthy, the sky’s the limit,” Gilbert said this past week, according to Kevin Gorman of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “My main focus is limit the distractions, as far as the suspensions and what happened last offseason, and staying healthy and staying ready and flexible and taking it one game at a time.”
In addition to being suspended for four games last season for violating the leagues policy on performance-enhancing substances, Gilbert also missed five full regular season games and parts of two others last season due to a hamstring injury. According to Gorman’s Monday story, Gilbert spent the offseason “working with physical therapists and trainers to improve his flexibility in his hamstrings, calves and ankles.”
“They’re the type of injuries that never go away. They just nag you and nag you, especially when you want to get out in space. You can’t really turn it on full speed because you’re scared of pulling something,” Gilbert said. “But last year is behind me. I’ve got so much time to work on my flexibility with my hamstring, my muscles, my joints, everything this offseason. I feel really comfortable with where I’m at right now. I feel that I’m coming into a better position this year than last year.”
Gilbert has yet to be voted to the Pro Bowl in his first seven years in the league. While he probably deserved to be voted to the Pro Bowl after the 2016 season, he ultimately was snubbed as Joe Thomas, Donald Penn and Taylor Lewan were the choices in the AFC at tackle. After Penn backed out because of an injury, he was replaced by Andrew Whitworth, and not Gilbert. While Gilbert obviously ultimately hopes he has to bypass this year’s Pro Bowl this upcoming season in order to play in the Super Bowl, it’s still a goal of his to be voted to the annual All-Star game just the same. He knows that if he stays fully healthy this season and plays like he’s played the past few seasons, he’ll have a chance at accomplishing that.
“It’s one of those things you can’t control what outsiders think of you, but my peers? They do. We talk. We’re all pretty good friends in the league, and we travel and see each other in the offseason. As long as you’re out there all 16 games, you gain respect,” Gilbert said.
A solid 2018 season from Gilbert will not only help his chances at finally making the Pro Bowl, it could result in him getting a new contract prior to training camp breaking over a year from now. Gilbert is currently in his next to last year of his current contract and thus a great 2018 season could set him up to be extended in 2019. While he is already 30 years of age, Gilbert appears to still have several good seasons left in him and so it’s important for him to start proving in 2018 he can stay on the field for every game he’s needed for.