Now that training camp is here with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in Latrobe and gearing up for what they hope will be a much more productive season, it’s time to take stock of where the team stands. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of training camp and the preseason and the regular season as it plays out. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning for each one. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: ILB Ulysees Gilbert III
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: Seen by the public for the first time since Thursday, the fourth-year linebacker was in a walking boot yesterday after reportedly suffering an injury during Saturday’s closed practice back in Pittsburgh, according to Brooke Pryor of ESPN. Gilbert’s grip on a roster spot is precarious at a deep inside linebacker position bolstered by an encouraging rookie in Mark Robinson, who is having a good camp.
While many expressed some confusion and disappointment over the Steelers opting to use a seventh-round draft pick on Mark Robinson, a linebacker out of Ole Miss who had only just begun to play the position, it looks as though he is going to have a serious shot at making the roster.
And having some veterans up ahead of him missing time due to injury won’t hurt his cause. While Marcus Allen had already been spending some time on the sideline due to a minor issue, now Ulysees Gilbert III is going to miss time, perhaps a couple of weeks, after suffering an injury late last week that has him in a walking boot.
The Steelers already have a top-heavy group at linebacker with Devin Bush, Myles Jack, and Robert Spillane, the latter of whom was listed as a co-starter on the first official depth chart. After that, the credentials of those remaining are based primarily on special teams.
That applies especially to Allen and Gilbert, but there’s also second-year Buddy Johnson trying to make the team and start getting ahead. A fourth-round pick, he has also been somewhat quietly having a good camp.
With both of the younger players flashing some potential, that should have the veteran special teamers of the group on alert with respect to their job security. The Steelers managed to squeeze six inside linebackers onto the 53-man roster last year, but that’s not guaranteed to happen again by any means.
And even if it does, that could still easily mean that either Gilbert or Allen don’t make the cut. Missing an extended period of time due to injury certainly won’t help matters. Indeed, it will only open the door for Robinson or Johnson, or both, to claim a spot on Danny Smith’s units.