PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – Another week. Another distraction.
Off the field, the 2017 Pittsburgh Steelers have been somewhat of a mess. Sideline tantrums, a disgruntled wideout attacking teammates on social media and a nation anthem debacle in Chicago highlight a season full of unwanted disturbances.
The latest is a four-game suspension to one of the game’s best right tackles in Marcus Gilbert, busted for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
The ban of Gilbert will keep him out of games against Green Bay, Cincinnati, Baltimore and, perhaps most importantly, a Week 15 showdown with New England at Heinz Field.
“You know, I really had no reaction, just an adjustment and often times that’s the case,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday during his weekly press conference. “Sometimes you’re faced with adversity and the things that you do, in terms of how you respond to it, defines you.”
Despite the diversions, heading into Sunday night’s primetime game against the Packers, the Steelers sit at 8-2 and in the top spot in the AFC.
Part of maintaining the stability and adding to the success has been backup tackle Chris Hubbard.
With Gilbert dealing with a nagging hamstring injury throughout the first half of the year, Hubbard has stepped in admirably, playing 225 more offensive snaps than Gilbert in 2017.
“He’s done an awesome job of upholding the standard,” Tomlin said of Hubbard. “From that standpoint, I’m excited for him and excited to watch him meet the standard of expectation.”
In addition to Gilbert, the Steelers will again be without injured cornerback Joe Haden, who will miss his second straight game with a broken fibula.
Safety Mike Mitchell and tight end Vance McDonald, who were unable to play in Thursday night’s win over Tennessee, will be monitored throughout the week. Rookie wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster, dealing with a “small” hamstring injury, per Tomlin, may be limited in the early stages of the week.