RT Gilbert Draws Praise from Steelers' Staff

In today's Steelers Notebook, rookie RT Marcus Gilbert draws praise, center Maurkice Pouncey returns (minus some weight) and Ben Roethlisberger bangs his thumb but shakes it off -- the pain, that is.

PITTSBURGH – Steelers rookie right tackle Marcus Gilbert drew plenty of praise from offensive coordinator Bruce Arians for his performance last Sunday night against Kansas City's fearsome pass-rusher, Tamba Hali.

Hali went up against Gilbert nine times and was blocked all nine times. Well, maybe 8½ times, according to Arians, who would like to have seen Gilbert finish Hali on the play Hali recovered and forced Mewelde Moore's fumble at the goal line.

"He did a real nice job, other than that one play," Arians said of Gilbert. "He needed to finish him a little bit more because the guy's got an unbelievable motor and he's a heckuva player."

When the Steelers drafted Gilbert out of Florida last April, they dubbed him their left tackle of the future. Yet all nine of Gilbert's starts have been at right tackle where he seems to have found a home.

"He could play left tackle, right tackle, right guard," Arians said. "This kid's a player. If he keeps his head on straight and continues to improve, the sky's the limit for him athletically.

"We knew he had the talent. The talent and the want-to, the desire, don't always go together, and so far he just manages to show us that he's more than ready to play every Sunday and he's willing to put the time in to prepare."

Is Gilbert's run-blocking up to the same level as that of Flozell Adams from last season?

"He's actually a better run-blocker than Flo right now," Arians said. "Flo did an unbelievable job with what he had left in his body last year. His mass covered people up more than moved them, but he covered them up pretty good. Marcus is getting movement. He and Ramon [Foster] have become a pretty good, solid side as far as run-blocking. If we get a little bit better job on our backside cutoffs and stuff, I think that average will go up a little bit."

The Steelers average 4.2 yards per rush. Last season they averaged 4.1.


Center Maurkice Pouncey returned to the team yesterday. He said it was the first day feeling better since Sunday, when he awoke with a nasty stomach virus.

Pouncey started the game but left after the first series of the second quarter.

He lost 12 pounds over the next few days and has put only two back on, putting his weight at a too-svelte 279 pounds.

"Fluids, bread and yogurt have been my key things," he said.

Pouncey didn't practice Thursday, but said "I'm definitely going to play" Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Even while sick, Pouncey turned in a typically outstanding performance against the Chiefs.

"I just wanted to play," he said. "Just in-between the plays I was having like dry heaves and I couldn't stop trying to throw up, so I got to the sideline and they just wanted to IV me, and when I got inside my stomach was cramping too bad to go back out."


For all of the trees being killed to report on the most minute details of LaMarr Woodley's and Troy Polamalu's recoveries this week, let's just paraphrase what Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday:

"They're going to play!"

Woodley and Polamalu practiced Thursday, but WRs Arnaz Battle (hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (foot) and LB Chris Carter (hamstring) did not.

Limited were Pouncey, LB Larry Foote (hamstring), and QB Ben Roethlisberger, who banged his re-fractured right thumb on a center snap and missed the final portion of practice.

"It's OK," said Roethlisberger.

"A little sting. Nothing major," said Arians.


Arians on whether Ole Miss has contacted him about their opening at head coach, as rumored:

"No. No. Those days – (sigh) – I can't stand rookies, man. No way in hell I could coach college guys (hearty laugh)."

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