2018 South Side Questions: Who Will Start At RT Sunday?

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: Who will start at right tackle against the Denver Broncos?

As the Steelers enter the on-field practice portion of their week, they have to determine who will be starting at right tackle for them this Sunday, which will depend upon who will be available to them. Their starter, Marcus Gilbert, has missed five games, including the past four, while his replacement, Matt Feiler, is dealing with a pectoral injury suffered in the last game.

Gilbert’s been dealing with an undisclosed knee injury since the bye week and hasn’t even taken the field for practice in a good while. He may have Pro Bowl abilities when he is on the field, but he has literally missed as much time as he has played over the course of the past two seasons to date.

Feiler’s pectoral injury did not cause him to miss any time against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday (who, by the way, started their fourth different left tackle of the season in that game, with the top two on injured reserve), but we will see if he practices today, and at what level of participation.

In the event that neither Gilbert nor Feiler is able to play this week, then the start would go to rookie third-round pick Chukwuma Okorafor, who has seen about 60 snaps this season as a tackle-eligible tight end so far, and worked a bit late in the blowout against the Carolina Panthers at right tackle as well.

Even with a third-string left tackle in the game, the Steelers would not have to be understaffed in-game, because they still have Zach Banner as another tackle body on the 53-man roster, and he would obviously serve as the swing tackle should Okorafor have to start.

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