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: Is Marcus Gilbert’s injury one that will be a concern for next week’s game?
Eighth-year veteran offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert has already missed the past two games since the bye week, dealing with a knee injury in spite of the fact that he returned to the lineup before they hit their break.
He has not practiced this week, either, and seems sure to be unable to play tomorrow night against the Carolina Panthers, missing his fourth game of the year. Matt Feiler would make his fourth start of the year, and third in a row, in replacing him, and the second-year lineman has done a nice job in that role.
Provided that Gilbert doesn’t practice today, one has to wonder if we might be dealing with something that will carry on through at least another week, and if Feiler continues to play well, there would be no urgency to rush him back, giving him time to get back up to 100 percent.
While I’m not in the camp that wants to see the next swing tackle du jour replace Gilbert full-time—he is still the most talented right tackle on the team when he is on the field—it’s certainly becoming frustrating as he continues to miss three or more games on an annual basis.
It’s worth noting that he will turn 31 in February with 2019 being the final year on his contract. He’ll have a base salary of over $4.8 million. And the team has four young tackles now in the wings, even if Feiler is already 26. Jerald Hawkins, currently on injured reserve, will actually be heading into his final season in 2019 as well, and then there is 21-year-old rookie Chukwuma Okorafor, who has been getting on the field as a tackle-eligible, and Zach Banner, a 2017 fourth-round pick of the Colts whom the Steelers picked up in training camp.