Some new details are now coming out about what may have led to Pittsburgh Steelers rookie right tackle Marcus Gilbert being benched Saturday against the St. Louis Rams. Steelers Digest editor Bob Labriola said today on his podcast that Gilbert had arrived to the Steelers facility early one morning this past week and had some breakfast prior to a scheduled meeting. When Gilbert finished his breakfast it was still not time for the meeting to start so he went down to the players lounge, sat in a chair and subsequently fell asleep. Labriola reports that was where Gilbert was when the meeting started. He also thinks it was Friday morning, the day before the game.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin would only say after the game about Gilbert, "He was less than professional in preparation this week. We acknowledge he is a talented young guy. He’s going to be a really good player in this league, and he’s done a lot for us to this point. But I didn’t like the way he prepared this week. I wanted to make a point that it wasn’t what we like. So I set him down for a veteran player who was prepared in the manner of which we wanted him to in Jonathan Scott." Tomlin said Tuesday during his press conference in regards to whether or not Gilbert would keep his starting spot, "We’ll see, again, Marcus is going to be a talented player for us. He’s performed very well to this point. But he has some growth and maturity things that we want to address. If he continues to do that then he will participate."
Tomlin certainly has not beaten around the bush in regards to Gilbert as he has made sure to get the word out through the media about how he was not happy with what transpired this week. This was not a first for Tomlin as he also benched running back Rashard Mendenhall for the third game of the 2009 season against the Cincinnati Bengals, because he felt that Mendenhall did not know his assignments. Tomlin said back then in regards to the benching, "Rashard wasn\'t on his details this week, so I chose not to play him on offense." Mendenhall responded the following week against the San Diego Chargers by rushing for 165 yards.
Was it too tough of punishment for Gilbert? Had he held him out the entire game I would say so, but Gilbert did get 2 offensive snaps in on the day down on the goal-line and he responded well on both. That was probably a little test by Tomlin to see if his head was still in the game even late in the second half. It was, and I suspect that Gilbert will be installed back at his starting spot at right tackle on Wednesday and he should start on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Rookie mistakes happen and if that was the worst one that Gilbert makes off the field this season, everything will be just fine. He has had a tremendous rookie season and will play a big part in the Steelers success once the playoffs get going.