Ulysees Gilbert III is a speedy, rangy linebacker out of Akron. The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to pick him up with the sixth-round pick that they got back from the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for Marcus Gilbert back in March.
Even though the team had already added Mark Barron in free agency and used the 10th-overall pick on Devin Bush, along with the retention of Vince Williams and special teams captain Tyler Matakevich, they still found room for the late-rounder after putting together an impressive season.
While it was understood that it would be a redshirt year for him defensively, Gilbert actually played extensively on special teams. He even played on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, recording two tackles on special teams. And then he was placed on the Reserve/Injured List.
“It’s tough, but at the same time you have to look at the positives from it”, he told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about his rookie season essentially being ended. With eight games left, he would not be eligible to be activated from the Reserve/Injured List unless the Steelers reach the postseason.
“I feel like God put me into this situation, and he will get me through it”, he went on. “It does (stink) that my rookie season is over, but at the end of the day the Steelers are going to continue to do what they do. This team is strong, we have a lot of talent, and I am going to continue to stay around as much as I can, continue to learn, take mental reps as much as I can. And still feel like I can be part of the team”.
If there is any consolation, it is that he has people he can talk to who have gone through a similar process, including fellow linebacker Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, who spent the majority of his rookie season a year ago, as a college free agent, on the Reserve/Injured List. He has talked publicly about how frustrating that was for him, but his experiences could make things easier for Gilbert.
On the back injury that he has been dealing with for multiple weeks now, he said, “we have to get more information on it. That’s pretty much it”.
In the meantime, the Steelers have replaced him with Robert Spillane, who did well in the preseason both defensively and on special teams. He should come right in and fill Gilbert’s role for the remainder of the year, which is a big opportunity for him.