Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
After Marcus Gilbert filled in for Max Starks on the blind-side during Pittsburgh’s Wild Card playoff loss to Denver in January of 2012, many believed that the former Florida Gator might assume that position during the 2012 campaign.
Gilbert might very well have taken over at left tackle that fall, but the selections of David DeCastro and Mike Adams in the first two rounds of that April’s draft kept the then-second year player at right tackle.
Although Gilbert worked at left tackle earlier this spring after Starks was allowed to explore his options on the free agent market, the coaching staff felt more comfortable with Adams as the blind-side protector.
Despite Adams’ recent struggles, it does not appear that the Steelers’ coaching staff are inclined to move Gilbert over to the blind-side any time soon according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
In a Q&A on his “Steelers Blog,” Bouchette answered the following when someone questioned why Gilbert would not see time at left tackle since Adams was demoted:
"The Steelers want to let well enough alone and keep Gilbert at right tackle. Either Levi Brown or Kelvin Beachum will start at left tackle; that is, as long as they can handle the job."
To their credit, Gilbert would be best served to stay at the right tackle position for the rest of the 2013 regular season anyway.
A stronger run-blocker than pass-blocker, Gilbert has struggled with speed-rushers this year and during the first two years of his career. In addition, putting a player who has started his last 22 games at right tackle on the blind-side would be just as much of gamble as inserting Beachum or Brown there until an adequate solution is found.
Moreover, how comfortable can a team be with a player if he could not even beat out the struggling Adams during the summer and training camp?
Of course, just because Gilbert is going to stay at right tackle doesn’t mean that his starting job will be safe at the end of the 2013 regular season
Chris Bradford of the Beaver County Times referenced how Gilbert has allowed 11 quarterback hurries during the Steelers’ first four regular season games. In addition, Gilbert is currently ranked 31st among all tackles according to Pro Football Focus, and Bradford mentioned that only two of the tackles in the top 30 have allowed as many as the former Gator.
For now, it appears that Gilbert’s job is safe on the right side and the Steelers’ coaching staff have faith that he can continue to improve. With three other “right tackles” on their roster (Brown, Beachum, and Adams) on their roster, Gilbert must prove that he is the “answer” over Pittsburgh’s final 12 games.
Otherwise, Pittsburgh’s coaching staff might be comfortable with somebody else manning the right tackle spot by the time the 2014 regular season starts.
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