An answer that probably shouldn’t surprise any Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan. Mike Tomlin was unfazed by the news of Marcus Gilbert’s suspension and in traditional fashion, focused on the next man up.
“I really had no reaction,” Tomlin told reporters. “Just an adjustment. Often times, that is the case. Sometimes you’re faced with adversity. The things you do in terms of how you respond to it define you.”
Instead, Tomlin redirected the conversation to Chris Hubbard, the man who will replace Gilbert over the next month. Someone he and the Steelers have a high degree of confidence, and now familiarity, in.
“Thankfully for us, Chris Hubbard playing is nothing new for us. He’s played a lot this year. He’s done an awesome job of upholding the standard. And so from that standpoint, I’me excited for him and excited for him to meet the standard of expectations.”
Hubbard has been the next man up at both tackle spots but mainly on the right side after Gilbert suffered a hamstring injury and then aggravated it in his first game back. A former UDFA, Hubbard is capable of playing all five spots but is a natural tackle going back to his college days at UAB.
Tomlin said “we’ll see” when asked how he wants Gilbert to respond. Most of that initial response will happen out-of-house. Until his suspension is over, Gilbert is not allowed at the team facility. He’ll be able to return following the New England Patriots game and be eligible to play Week 16 against the Houston Texans. So the silver lining is that he’ll be back and ready for the playoffs.
His absence could have a trickle-down effect. With Hubbard forced back into action on the line, he can no longer be used as a tackle eligible. But Tomlin shot down those concerns.
“We utilized the extra TE position when Hubs started weeks back. It’s B.J. Finney. He’s probably as accountable and as solid in that area as Hubbard.”
Finney has been used in that spot 24 times this season, according to our charting. The Steelers have run the ball 20 times and averaged 5.2 yards per play, certainly a healthy and reassuring number.