Craig Wolfley Sees Improvement In Gilbert, While Adams Still Needs Work

Steelers Live had quite the valuable guest host on board yesterday in former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Craig Wolfley. Wolfley has been a regular contributor there and on Steelers radio for many years, and has always provided excellent insight to all things offensive line.

While he has a tendency to skew positive, he had a lot of interesting things to say about Marcus Gilbert yesterday, seeing a player that’s very much coming into himself and possibly looking like the second-rounder the Steelers thought they drafted back in 2011.

Marcus Gilbert looks good. I was talking with Tunch [Ilkin] and we were going, “there’s something that looks different here”. He’s changed his stance. And I will say this: when in one-on-one pass rushes, when the opponent comes into the combat zone, two years ago he looked like he was never ready. Now he looks like he’s got his feet under him, he’s got a solid base.

We’re seeing, I think, the emergence of what they thought they had when they drafted him, what he could be, and he’s starting to really become that block of granite that you want. So hopefully he will continue in the growth pattern. He posted 16 starts last year. Yeah, now build on it. That’s awesome. That’s what you want. Get somebody out there who starts getting 16, 32, 48 starts. But the thing about it is Marcus Gilbert is on the rise.

Host Bob Labriola conceded that when it comes to evaluating the offensive line, Wolfley has him beaten squarely, but he seems on the mark when he described the current supposed ‘battle’ at right tackle against Mike Adams:

“It doesn’t seem to me that Marcus Gilbert is giving Mike Adams any opening to come through to make a challenge for his job. A lot of times, that’s the thing, when someone wins a starting job, I always think it’s partially lost before it can be won”.

Wolfley agreed, and noted that if there’s one thing that Gilbert needs to show, it’s toughness. While he did start every game a year ago, he missed a lot of time within those 16 games, and he’s battled multiple injuries throughout his three seasons.

He may not necessarily lack toughness, but he certainly needs to do a better job of staying healthy. Nevertheless, here was Wolfley’s take on Gilbert and his need to stay on the field, likening it to the training camp battle two seasons ago between Keenan Lewis and Cortez Allen after William Gay left for Arizona:

What Marcus Gilbert has got to do is show that toughness. Can you be in there day in and day out. You don’t want to give your buddy an opportunity to move into that spot. You saw two years ago with Keenan Lewis. Keenan Lewis had the bad shoulder and didn’t take a day off. He knows Cortez Allen is breathing down his neck. No, I’m not taking the day off, I’m going to stay the man, you’re going to have to drag me off this field.

Unfortunately, the early days of training camp seem to lack that sense of urgency in the position battle that we saw for the starting cornerback spot two years ago, because according to many reports, the third-year Adams isn’t entirely holding up his end of the bargain.

He seems to have shown modest improvement in spurts from having worked with Mike Munchak during the offseason on his technique, and says that he is improving every day, but he is starting to put together a collection of bad tape. If he doesn’t start practicing more consistently, the battle will be lost before it’s even begun.

As previously mentioned, Wolfley tends to skew positive in his evaluations, but you can often read between the lines when it comes to his critiques, and he also saw that Adams was still lacking in technique:

Mike Adams: he’s still a work in progress. He’s got a ways to go. You can tell that he’s spent some good time with Mike Munchak. He’s starting to use his hands better, he’s starting to sit better, but he’s got to play with better knee bend. That would be the one thing I would say, and the other thing is, he has a tendency, as soon as guys start shaking, these hands widen. He’s got to keep his hands under control, and then be able to apply the punch when it comes, but let’s hope that Mike Adams can get ‘em going, because the kid has the ability. There’s no question in my mind, he’s got the ability. Now you’ve got to bring that out in him.

It’s still early in training camp, and the first preseason game is still more than a week away, so it can’t hurt to be a little optimistic. At the very least, the early returns of Marcus Gilbert’s fourth training camp have been positive.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • 20Stoney

    Mike Adams is looking more and more like a bust.

  • steeltown

    I think we’ll see a lot of Mike Adams in the preseason.. as well as Wes Johnson

  • Rob H

    I hate to be cynical, but it would be typical if Gilbert is finally motivated to put it all together… in his contract year.

  • treeher

    Agree. We do not draft second rounders to sit on the bench and substitute for injuries.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    Mike Adams, IMO, is basically a rookie. Everything he seemed to have learned the last 2 years is wrong. We need to give Munch some time to get him straightened out.

  • Lil Smitty

    I am always worried about players who really pick it up during a contract year. Hopefully, an OLineman can’t collect stats that would benefit him on the open market and negotiations. The only thing I could see helping him this year would be all-pro status.

  • Steelers12328882

    Did anyone really think there was a battle between Gilbert and Adams anyway? That was last year. Glad to hear Gilbert is doing well, but don’t sleep on Adams. Even if Gilbert and Beachum go 16 for 16 I’m not so sure the Steelers will resign Gilbert.

  • sweep_the_legarrette

    He’s one of the few players I am not excited about going into this season. He has all of the tools, he just doesn’t seem to be able to put it all together.

  • Crowned

    On the other side of the coin, a lot of it may be credited to Munchak.

  • dgh57

    And a desire to succeed in the NFL.

  • shakins

    just as Leonard answered I am taken by surprise that a single mom can make $7907 in a few weeks on the internet . check my source ……..—….. PAYRAP.ℭℴℳ

  • dgh57

    You can find Spammers everywhere now these days!!

  • dgh57

    I was thinking working with Munchak through the OTAs would do Adams some good going into Camp but I keep hearing negative things about him! It’s still early as far as this year goes but his needle is pointing more south as each day goes by!

  • Jesse Murray

    Gilbert played on one ankle last season, gritted his teeth and played when most players would’ve hung it up and opted for surgery. Lad has been inconsistent but I for one dont question his efforts last season.

  • Jesse Murray

    That might actually be a very telling statement.

  • Big White

    Gilbert & Adams represent the greatest threat to a good season. There is absolutely NO coaching either of them into a quality professional. period

  • chris ward

    If Munchak can’t improve Adams, I don’t know if anyone can.

  • joed32

    Let’s give him a chance to work with Adams. He’s one of the best OL coaches in the league, he deserves a fair chance to see what he can do. A couple of weeks isn’t enough to break all of the bad habits and replace them.
    If Adams doesn’t improve this year then cut him.

  • NW86

    I was about to say the same thing – all things considered, I would say that Gilbert played well for the most part last season.
    Regarding him putting it all together in his contract year, hopefully it doesn’t come to that. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Steelers give him an extension before September 7 – if he’s willing to accept a relatively modest one with some decent guarantees.

  • cencalsteeler

    Can we continuously loop ” Rudy” in Adams dorm room?

  • Pete Johnson

    Can’t coach heart.

  • 20Stoney

    I’ve given him benefit of doubt for the last two seasons with missing otas and getting stabbed, but he has no excuses this year. I’ve got to say the early reports I’ve heard, especially Shamarko Thomas planting him on his butt, don’t have me very hopeful anymore. I hope I’m wrong!

  • ApexSteel

    Well the other two “Rookies” (Beachum and Decastro) aren’t having the same issues. I think it’s more of a him being bad thing than him being taught the wrong thing.

  • Asmitty56

    Adams maybe, but Gilbert has been fine.

  • joed32

    I’m not sure it’s heart because he run blocks pretty well and that takes heart too. Maybe he’s too dumb to learn pass protection technique.

  • Steve

    Good Joke – Mike Adams All Pro – HA HA HA! Who we kidding when he’s not even starting. Mike Adams had his chances and was beat every time.

  • Steve

    Tunch refers to the same above, that Gilbert didn’t want to loose his job, so he sucked it up and stayed in there.

  • Steve

    Doesn’t this sound like last year on the DL with Cam and Ziggy neck and neck in Camp and Ziggy Hood just flopped as Adams is doing.

  • Lil Smitty

    I was actually referring to Marcus Gilbert. He has slightly better odds to make all-pro. Just slightly better odds!

  • Big White

    Been average at best. I question his love for the game.

  • Gilbert has been average and shown flashes of being at least solid with basically no OL coach thus far in his career. If Munchak can coach him up, he has enough ability to anchor the RT spot.

  • I’m with joed32, I don’t think it’s heart. He plays with heart and he’s a mauler in the run game at times. His technique in the passing game is just weak. whether it be from being too dumb, or poorly coached, or whatever, he plays too high, too slow, and out of balance most of the time in the passing game. Hopefully those are things that Munchak can coach out of him.

  • Asmitty56

    You really only say that because it’s the popular opinion. Once a player gets labeled as soft or non-aggressive they get black balled by the fan base. Just look at the the training camp reports, I haven’t heard a single negative thing about Gilbert, and he was solid last season especially towards the end of the year. Whether you like it or not, Gilbert is one of the team’s top OTs, in fact he is one of their only options at OT. I’d very much prefer to go into the future with SOMEBODY to play RT. He’s not going to command a large contract, and it likely will be team friendly in structure.

  • Big White

    There is a reason for that popular opinion. He has had nearly four years to show me something. Now, he looks good at camp during a contract year? Resigning him to a big number would be a disastrous mistake.

  • walter mason

    Remember Flozell Adams and his last second punch? Mike Adams doesnt have it and Im afraid to say he may not have any heart either. He seems to be degrading each year. Cmon Mike. No excuses.

  • walter mason

    The knock on him out of college was he seems to play lazy.

  • Asmitty56

    He looked fine last year as well playing through injuries, there’s your toughness. And it doesn’t have to be a big number, just a fair one for both sides. hopefully with low guarantee numbers