Through this early-season lineup change, three people have had a lot to say in support of Jordan Gibbs making his first start, while one person has been relatively quiet about the decision. Dave Wannstedt, Jason Pinkston and Lucas Nix feel Gibbs is going to do well, and will give the offensive line the boost that it needs. Gibbs, on the other hand, has been quite reserved and humble about his first opportunity.
"It's a very good opportunity," Gibbs said. "I've been working hard throughout practice. I'm getting my shot, so I'm going to run with it.
"I've gotten shots before. Right now, I kept working through it and getting better every day. Coach Wise is a great coach, and Pinkston and Lucas Nix have really helped through everything, to where I am today."
One of the things that Wannstedt said, in referring to why he made this move three games into the season, is the way Gibbs has worked in practice. Even though Gibbs has seen other players given a shot in the starting lineup before him, he kept a strong work ethic in practice--one of the best of any position so far--which eventually led him to his own shot.
"We've been talking about our offensive line, and if there is anything we can do to make it better," Wannstedt said. "Has there been an in individual or two individuals who have been working hard and deserve an opportunity to get out there and play? Jordan Gibbs would fall into that category."
The coaching staff thought enough of Gibbs in recent weeks, to include him in some short-yardage situations, as an extra tight end. Gibbs' work in practice paved the way to that opportunity. As a result of how he performed in that role, and as a result of how he came out with a little fire late in the Miami game--at left tackle--he has earned this opportunity now.
"He's been here through the tough times, he's stayed with the program, he's competed and he's gotten better the last few weeks," Wannstedt added. "He didn't hang his head in training camp when he wasn't named a starter, so he deserves a chance. He's probably a little more athletic than what people give him credit for. In terms of run blocking he brings size, strength and explosion. He's a big guy, about 6-6, 315. He brings some size to our team."
Gibbs has had a little taste in the starting lineup. With Jason Pinkston sitting out, recovering from a left shoulder injury in 2007, Gibbs took all the first-team reps in the spring of 2008. Though it wasn't the season, he had the opportunity to get consistent work with the first group. Entering training camp that year, he started off with the first group at left tackle, before Pinkston gradually worked himself into starter-shape. Now, it seems, that experience leading into the 2008 season, has helped Gibbs as he prepares for his first start. He also took some first-team reps in the last two spring sessions, filling in for Pinkston.
"I think it probably happens more so than not, at all the positions," Wannstedt said, referring to players benefiting from filling in for an injured player during the spring. "I think the experience Pat Bostick got (in 2007) filling in for Billy Stull. You could go right across the board where there were a lot of examples where that was a factor."
Pinkston, who had to enter the 2008 training camp as a backup, had to prove he was healthy and recovered, in order to pass Gibbs on the depth chart that August. Today, he is one of Gibbs' biggest supporters.
"He was in for me a lot in the spring, and he did a very good job on (Greg) Romeus," Pinkston said. "Jordan Gibbs is a great player. Some of the things I struggle with, Jordan is very good at. Some of the things he's not as good at, I'm good at. Jordan is very capable of doing it for us. He'll do a good job for us."
Nix, who will play next to Gibbs now, likes the physical aspect of the move.
"(Tuesday) we definitely made some steps," Nix said. "Gibbs is looking good. It's pretty nice. You pretty much just line up. I got one guy in front of me. I got to get my head play-side, and run him out of the hole. I like the physical aspect of it."