By Jeremy Hritz
Much attention has fallen upon the shuffling of the Pittsburgh Steelers tackles, with Mike Adams shifting over to the left, and Marcus Gilbert sliding to the right. While many believed this move was only in the spirit of experimentation, in the most recent depth chart released by the Steelers on Tuesday, Adams was listed as the left tackle and Gilbert as the right. While it may be premature to read too deeply into this move, it may be the first indication that the team feels more confident with Adams on the left side than they do Gilbert.
Matthew Marczi wrote earlier today about the shift of Adams and Gilbert that “position battles are for training camp, however, and now we see that Adams is indeed clearly being given the opportunity to win the starting left tackle job. Before long, it might even be his job to lose.” But could Gilbert be in danger of losing a starting job altogether?
Is there an unspoken position battle taking place on the right side between Gilbert and the second year do-it-all lineman, Kelvin Beachum, and could he end up usurping Gilbert for the starting right tackle position?
In his Tuesday Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Plus chat, Ed Bouchette was asked about the possibility of Gilbert losing his job to Beachum, to which he replied, “If Beachum looks better than Gilbert, they would play him. They love Beachum. He can play anywhere.”
And if you follow Dale Lolley’s blog, NFL from the Sidelines, he has been unimpressed of Gilbert’s performance so far this training camp, observing that “Marcus Gilbert is a concern. It seems to take him a play or two in individual drills before he gets going. Doing that in a game will be an opening drive killer.”
This past Saturday, Lolley offered another take on the Steelers offensive line: “The more I see, by the way, the more I’m convinced that the best five consists of Mike Adams at left tackle and Beachum on the right side, with Marcus Gilbert on the bench. Gilbert will show flashes, but just isn’t consistent.”
Beachum was the darling of the Steelers 2012 draft because of his outstanding character and approach to the game, but during the preseason last year, he was less than stellar, and it was predicted that he would not make the team. Surprisingly, he did, and made enough improvement to start five games, with his first start coming against the Ravens in Baltimore, a challenge that he handled with poise, filling in for Adams who missed the game because of an injury. Though he gave up a sack in that game, he played well and made an impression on the organization. As a result of Adams’ misfortune, Beachum gained experience at the right tackle position, and you have to wonder if the Steelers have given any thought of Beachum being a full time starter at right tackle.
With Gilbert’s history of injuries and his speculated struggles with conditioning, the Steelers may be willing to consider such a move.
And while it seems that Beachum’s 2013 role is set in stone as Mr. Utility, if Gilbert struggles in the upcoming preseason contests, it is possible that Beachum could work his way into the starting right tackle position.