Immediately after it was reported on Monday that Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Marcus Gilbert had been suspended for the next four games for violating the league’s PED policy, the starting offensive lineman released a short statement on Twitter that included him apologizing to his teammates, coaches and the entire Steelers family for him inadvertently taking a banned substance.
On Tuesday, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger talked about Gilbert’s suspension during his weekly interview on 93.7 The Fan and indicated he believes the right tackle didn’t willingly take something that could potentially result in him getting suspended.
“I honestly don’t believe, other than the fact, and he understands it, that we have to know and understand what we put in our bodies and you can’t always take their word and I know he said that he asked the person and that they said that there was 100 percent no chance it was going to be an issue,” Roethlisberger said. “So, it’s tough. Like I said, I don’t want to speak for him and all those things, but I believe him when he tells me he did not intentionally do anything to harm this team or his body.”
Regardless of whether or not Gilbert intentionally or unintentionally took something that led to him being suspended for the next four games, Roethlisberger indicated Tuesday that the tackle needs to learn from his recent mistake moving forward into his career.
“I told him, and he knows that we can’t always take the word of a doctor or a nutritionist, or things like that,” Roethlisberger said, who also admitted on Tuesday that he’s known for maybe a week or two that there was a chance Gilbert might be suspended.
Roethlisberger also said that most of the players who knew Gilbert was likely to be suspended pretty much all agreed that the tackle shouldn’t appeal it should it ultimately happen due to the fact that he wasn’t likely to win it and thus in doing so it would likely only delay the inevitable.
“Let’s get this thing over with so he can get back to us, because it’s going to take time to kind of get back into it after being gone for four weeks,” Roethlisberger said on the matter of Gilbert not appealing his suspension.
In the end, Roethlisberger still knows that losing Gilbert for another four games isn’t ideal.
“Yeah it stinks,” Roethlisberger said.
Roethlisberger also said Tuesday that while the team certainly does trust that backup Chris Hubbard can continue to properly fill Gilbert’s shoes just as he’s done most of the season, not having the team’s regular starter on the line for the next four games will still affect the offense some just the same.
“You hate to lose a guy like that for four games,” Roethlisberger said. “[We have] faith and belief in Hub [Hubbard]. I mean, he’s played a lot this year with the hamstring that Gil’s had, so we know that he’ll step up to the challenge and be ready to go and he accepts that challenge to really not let there be a drop-off. But when you’re missing a guy like that, it hurts us in terms of some of the extra stuff we do. You know, when Hubbard’s kind of our extra tight end, we can do some things.”
Hubbard has started five games in place of an injured Gilbert so far this season in addition to taking over for him in two other games. Now, Hubbard will start the next four and that means guard B.J. Finney will have to back to being the extra tight end.
“So, our depth is hurt and some of the offensive stuff that we like to do is hurt a little bit as well,” Roethlisberger said.