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: Will Marcus Gilbert be healthy in time for the playoffs…and if so, should he even get his starting job back?
Steelers right tackle is shaping up to miss yet another game as he failed to practice for the second day in a row heading into Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders. It will be the eighth game that he has missed this season and the seventh in a row.
Matt Feiler has started six of those games, set up to start a seventh, the only one that he missed being due to a pectoral injury, in which game Chukwuma Okorafor started. Like Chris Hubbard last season, Feiler has been playing above the line in Gilbert’s spot this year, and the Steelers have not been babysitting him.
As for Gilbert, he has been sidelined basically for months now, since the Steelers’ bye week, with a knee injury regarding which we have never been given meaningful details. But it’s fair to say at this point that it was an injury of relative seriousness.
The closest we have been given to any kind of detail was when Mike Tomlin said a couple of weeks ago that it wasn’t healing as fast as they’d hoped, which doesn’t necessarily narrow down what the exact nature of the injury could be very far.
Let’s say he is able to ramp things up toward the end of the regular season, however, and be healthy in time for a postseason run. Let’s say that while that’s happening Feiler continues to play at the same level that he has up to this point.
What do the Steelers do in that situation? What should they do? Gilbert is the most talented right tackle on the team, but he has missed so much time at this point, and the line has an in-season rhythm with Feiler being where he is.