Steelers RT Marcus Gilbert returns to practice

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 17: Offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert #77 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 17, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

After missing the last three games with a hamstring injury, Pittsburgh Steelers starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert has taken a step towards making a return to action. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Gilbert practiced Wednesday as the Steelers began preparations for their Week 6 matchup with the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.

Gilbert played 59 of a possible 74 offensive snaps in Pittsburgh’s Week 2 win over the Minnesota Vikings, but would be limited in practice in the days that followed. Gilbert would ultimately be ruled out for the team’s Week 3 loss to the Chicago Bears, with the seventh-year tackle going on to miss games against the Ravens and Jaguars as well.

With Gilbert sidelined, veteran backup Chris Hubbard got the call at right tackle in the injured starter’s place. In Sunday’s 30-9 loss to the Jaguars, the bigger issue for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was the accuracy of his passes as opposed to the protection he received. While sacked twice, Roethlisberger threw a career-high five interceptions as the Steelers dropped to 3-2 on the season.

Marcus Gilbert’s return would help with regards to both depth and continuity. Of the 78 games he’s played in for the Steelers, Gilbert has started 77. While Wednesday’s news regarding Gilbert is a positive, it should be noted that he was listed as a full participant for last Wednesday’s practice in the lead-up to the game against Jacksonville. Gilbert did not participate in either of the following two practices, ultimately leading to his being made inactive.

Sunday’s matchup is a big one for Pittsburgh, which can close the gap between itself and the team with the AFC’s best record with a victory. In Kansas City, Pittsburgh visits a team that ranked 27th in the NFL in total defense (366.0 yards allowed per game), 25th in pass defense (248.0) and tied for 20th in rushing defense (118.0).

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