The Steelers are still looking for their starting left tackle for the 2012 season. They have a couple of options in Mike Adams, who hasn’t looked good so far through two pre-season games, Max Starks, who is still not playing, but is off the PUP list recovering from an ACL injury, and Marcus Gilbert? Gilbert was the 2011 right tackle and is playing some left tackle with the first team due to the injuries on the offensive line. Gilbert has made it known that he would like to be the left tackle, but the Steelers seem ready to keep him at right tackle.
Gilbert got the start at left tackle for the Steelers second pre-season game against the Colts. Outside of one play where he allowed pressure on Ben Roehtlisberger, Gilbert played well. On the other side of the line Ramon Foster started at right tackle. Foster also played well and the starting offensive line was able to open up some nice running lanes early for Jonathan Dwyer, who started for Issac Redman.
The Steelers seem to be waiting for Starks to return so that he can take the left tackle job and leave Marcus Gilbert at right tackle, but what happens if Starks isn’t ready to go? Remember, Starks is less than eight months removed from an ACL tear and is working to play the hardest position on the offensive line. If Starks is unable to go it seems unlikely the Steelers are ready to give the starting job to Mike Adams. Gilbert may be the answer to that question.
In the Steelers week one match-up with the Broncos they will be going up against the Von Miller and Elvis Dummerville, if he isn’t suspended for his off-the-field issues. It seems unlikely they will let Adams to go up against these top-tier pass rushers after being beat both back-ups against the Eagles and Colts.
Gilbert should continue to practice with the first team offensive line at left tackle until Starks is ready to return. If he plays well during the final two preseason games (assuming he plays at left tackle) and plays well in practice he may have a chance to take the left tackle job.
The only issue is who takes his spot at right tackle if Gilbert moves to the left side? Well, Ramon Foster played well last night. Starks also started his career on the right side and could replace Foster there when ready. The Steelers could also keep the Gilbert-Colon-Pouncey-DeCastro-Foster line until Starks is ready and then return Gilbert to the right side.
For a position that had a lot of fans optimistic heading into training camp, the Steelers offensive line has become a question mark once again. Luckily for the Steelers it seems the inside positions are set and if Starks returns healthy soon they may just be able to solidify one of the best offensive lines Pittsburgh has seen in several years.