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Insider Only Changes on O-Line: Gilbert takes over at RT; Essex preparing to get “good look” at RG this week

By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — Don’t expect veteran former Steelers Flozell Adams or Max Starks to be re-signed to replace right offensive tackle Willie Colon on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster.
Colon, who suffered a triceps injury late in the club’s 35-7 blowout loss to the Baltimore Ravens this past Sunday, had surgery Tuesday morning and is expected to be put on injured reserve, Colon’s agent, Joe Linta, said. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin would not confirm that Colon would go on IR.
“(Colon) is going to be out for an extended period of time, to say the least,” Tomlin said Tuesday during his weekly press conference. “Probable IR, of course, but we haven’t made that determination yet. We’re going to let him come out of recovery before we proceed.”
Rookie second-round draft pick Marcus Gilbert from Florida will move from backup left tackle to starting right tackle for the Steelers. For those who believe Starks or Adams should get a call, that’s not likely. Starks is coming off neck surgery and was badly out of shape going into training camp, and Adams wanted too much money. Neither of those things are likely to change.
So, Gilbert gets a chance to start, even though he hasn’t played much right tackle for the Steelers. He primarily has worked out on the left side.

“We like his pedigree,” Tomlin said. “(Gilbert) is a talented guy, and he’s showed an ability to play a variety positions at Florida. He played both tackles positions and actually some guard at Florida. He’s shown that he’s not a fish out of water in those areas since he’s been here in terms of being position flexible.
“(There’s) not a lot of tape, because not a lot of opportunities for a young guy. But we do believe he’s talented. He has done a nice job with the opportunities that he’s been given to this point, and it’s enough for us to feel comfortable moving forward. And we’ll give him an opportunity this weekend.”
Tomlin added that a couple tackles have been brought in for tryouts today, but they only are “for potential depth to see if they’re capable of helping us.” He expected a decision Colon’s status and any roster additions to be made in the next day or so. For Colon, after starting three straight seasons at right tackle, he will miss basically two straight seasons.
Colon sat out the entire 2010 season due to a torn Achilles that occurred during an offseason workout. And now he’ll miss the entire 2011 season with a torn triceps. The only good thing for Colon is that instead of having his future up in the air going into the NFL lockout, he was able to re-sign for $29 million over five years.
“For Willie, going down two consecutive seasons, of course, is a tough blow,” Tomlin said. “So, we’ll keep him close and encourage him to help him through what is, I’m sure, going to be a tough time with rehab and everything. More than anything, Willie is a guy that loves to play the game of football.
“And, of course, he won’t be given an opportunity to do that. … We’re sad for him, but for us we acknowledge that this is a natural part of the game. Things like that along this journey happen. And as a football team, we’ll do what football teams do, of course, which is the next man up will move on. And we’ll expect him to play to the same standard.”
Tomlin also addressed another spot on the offensive line, but only briefly. He was asked whether Doug Legursky played well enough against the Ravens to secure a starting nod at right guard at least a second straight week. Tomlin said that Legursky earned another spot.
However, backup Trai Essex and former starter Ramon Foster are still options. In fact, according to Essex’s personal trainer, Anthony Piroli, from Bridgeville, Pa., Essex is preparing to get a good look at right guard this week. Piroli also trains Foster, Colon, Heath Miller and Paul Posluszny, among other NFL players.
Gilbert and Essex dressed, but did not play against the Ravens, while Foster and second-year player Chris Scott were deactivated before the game.
The Steelers play host to the Seattle Seahawks Sunday at 1 p.m. at Heinz Field.

About The Author

Dale Grdnic

TIOPS Steelers Beat Writer

Dale Grdnic is a contributor to Inside Pittsburgh Sports, covering the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pitt Football. Dale has covered the Pittsburgh Sports scene for over 15 years with various publications

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