Chris Hubbard has for the past three weeks been a pretty important figure in the starting lineup for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but barring an unforeseen setback for Marcus Gilbert today, we should see the fourth-year lineman fall back to his reserve position, with some active duty as a tackle-eligible at tight end.
I think I’ve done a film session for him in each of the past four weeks, if I’m not mistaken, but I think it’s important to put backups under the microscope when they’re called into action. His run blocking was an asset last week, but he struggled fairly often in all areas on Sunday.
Let’s start back in the first quarter. On first down from the 17, Hubbard was beaten to the outside with a swim move by Calais Campbell, forcing Ben Roethlisberger to step up in the pocket. With nobody flashing open quickly enough, he had to settle for a one-yard scramble.
Not that it was all bad, all the time. he handled Dante Fowler well early in the second quarter, though the third-down play did not convert. Hubbard got a strong early punch into the former first-round pick’s chest, and when Fowler tried a spin move, the right tackle stayed in front of him.
Hubbard was able to play Fowler’s spin move well again late in the quarter during the two-minute drill as the Steelers were in the red zone, looking to score. This time he broke out the spin as a proactive attack rather than as a counter, but again, Hubbard was able to keep his base and stay out in front.
Late in the third quarter, however, Fowler’s pressure around the edge may have influenced a high pass from Roethlisberger that was defensed and then intercepted. Hubbard probably got away with a hold on this play as well.
Toward the tail end of the third quarter, he nearly single-handedly sabotaged what should have been an easy third-and-one conversion on the ground when Campbell tossed him aside. The veteran defender fooled Hubbard into thinking he was looking to penetrate inside before shoving him upfield. The only thing that saved the play was Le’Veon Bell escaping his tackle attempt.
For a backup right tackle, Hubbard certainly has not had the greatest luck this year in terms of drawing difficult assignments, having faced Everson Griffen, Akiem Hicks, and now Campbell and Fowler. And now Justin Houston awaits Gilbert.