The Steelers will have a decision to make when 2nd round pick Marcus Gilbert is able to return from his ankle injury, but rookie Mike Adams isn’t making the decision for Mike Tomlin and Sean Kugler any easier..or is he?
As Gerry Dulac points out, Gilbert’s injury could have been worse but was still bad enough: Gilbert sustained a nasty ankle injury in which the tendon that protects the muscle tore away from the bone. The Steelers sent him to a specialist in Charlotte, N.C., and the prognosis was better than first feared: Gilbert would miss at least a month, but he wouldn’t need surgery to repair the damage.
With 3 starts in the last 3 weeks under his belt, Adams is getting better each game. Tomlin won’t hesitate to keep some Tight End help over with Adams as needed in pass protection but over time that will continue to diminish more as Adams improves. He’s going to give up sacks all year long, it’s a given with a rookie but his run blocking is outstanding thus far, making Todd Haley’s job a little bit easier considering the Steelers predominantly run to the right.
The NFL teams that have the most success go with the hot hand at nearly every position on the roster. If you perform well, you keep playing. If you don’t or you get hurt, it’s the next man up. If Adams continues to improves he should be the man for the remainder of the season. That’s no disrespect to Gilbert, I still believe he’s a long term starter on the Steelers line but for the time being, unless injury strikes, Adams has earned the opportunity to keep playing.
If there is one thing that is of the utmost importance to an offensive line, it’s being able to play together as a unit consistently. Pulling out pieces of the puzzle just inhibits the cohesion they’ve worked so hard to build together.
Now what happens in 2013 will be very interesting. Max Starks has been rock solid and a huge influence, no pun intended, on both Gilbert and Adams in teaching them the ropes of playing on an NFL offensive line. Both Gilbert and Adams have previously said they prefer the left side to the right but are willing to do whatever it takes. Barring injury these are your two bookends for the future. Who plays on what side will have to sort itself out later.
For what it’s worth, I don’t buy into this trading Gilbert talk at all that some seem to want to speculate on. The Steelers invested a second round pick on Gilbert, he’s worth keeping around (as long as he can find a way to stop injuring his own teammates that is).