The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: At what point does Marcus Gilbert’s job become in jeopardy?
Marcus Gilbert suffered some sort of knee injury during or prior to the team’s bye week, and the Steelers have played five games since then. They have one day of practice before they participate in their sixth, and after that, there will only be four games left in the regular season.
Assuming that he doesn’t play again this week, he will have already guaranteed himself missing nearly half the season due to injury, and Matt Feiler, who looks to be back this week, has played well in his place.
At this point, the offensive line is in more of a rhythm with Feiler in the lineup than with Gilbert, even though Feiler did not play in the last game as he was coming back from a pectoral injury. Chukwuma Okorafor started that game.
So my question is this: at this point, what would it take to give rise to a situation in 2018 in which Gilbert is healthy and ready to return to play, yet is not asked to start? Is that even reasonable? What if he missed the remainder of the regular season with Feiler playing well in his absence?
Gilbert is still the most talented and most skilled player on the roster to line up at right tackle when he is healthy, but if he has missed over two months’ worth of games and his replacements have been picking up the slack, then you have to consider the value of the chemistry that has gotten them to a 5-1 record in the games he hasn’t played.
Part of the problem is that the team has not been forthcoming about the injury Gilbert is dealing with, leaving fans with no idea as to what is going on. All we know is that he played before the bye week and then hasn’t been able to play since. That naturally causes frustration and makes people question the player.