Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: ILB Ulysees Gilbert III
Stock Value: Down
While Steelers fans are still gnashing their teeth over the fact that Tuzar Skipper is sitting there doing nothing on the New York Giants’ practice squad, they had largely forgotten and become grown indifferent to Ulysees Gilbert III, who like Skipper was a high-performing rookie for the defense during the preseason.
Both of them made the initial 53-man roster, but Skipper was quickly waived with an eye toward getting him onto the practice squad. That didn’t work, as the Giants ended up claiming him off waivers, but when New York released him, the Steelers never put in a claim for him to get him back. Nobody did, in fact, which is why the Giants were able to re-sign him to the practice squad. Pittsburgh can technically sign him right now if they wanted to.
These are the thoughts that occupy the mind of the Steelers fan while forgetting about Gilbert, whom some among us had already projected into a future starting lineup a year or two from now to pair with fellow rookie inside linebacker Devin Bush. Because that’s how it always works out.
But many of these same people may not realize that Gilbert had played more on special teams than anybody else on the roster prior to the back injury that popped up in recent weeks and has kept him out of games.
The Steelers announced that he was being placed on the Reserve/Injured List yesterday, however, so that means that, unless they make the postseason, his year is over, given that there are only eight games left.
Despite playing on Sunday and recording two tackles on special teams, his back injury was obviously exacerbated by his playing time. He finished his rookie year with five total tackles, all on special teams, which is frankly not a bad start.
With Tyler Matakevich’s rookie contract up after this season, it will be interesting to see how they view the backup inside linebacker position going forward. Mark Barron and Anthony Chickillo among the linebackers could also both be salary cap casualties, so there’s a good chance there will be room for him.