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Marcus Gilbert wants to be 'a complete and top right tackle'

Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert is preparing himself for the final year of his rookie contract. His latest offensive line coach, Mike Munchak, says he's asking them to do some different things, but doesn't expect overnight change.

Jonathan Daniel

PITTSBURGH -- Many look at the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackles and look at them as a liability, but new offensive line coach Mike Munchak preferred to make a more informed judgment after the club gets into training camp and plays a few preseason games.

And who could doubt Munchak, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001. The former Tennessee Titans head coach was an All-American guard at Penn State, an All-Pro guard with the Houston Oilers and a world-class offensive line coach with the Titans. So, Munchak should be just what the Steelers young offensive front needs.

And make no mistake, Munchak is up to the challenge with Kelvin Beachum, Mike Adams, Marcus Gilbert and Guy Whimper manning the outside spots on the club's offensive line.

"The best thing a coach can have is competition, and I think we have that,'' Munchak said. "With Beachum playing, Mike there and Marcus, I think we've got some guys that can really do some good things.

"I'm asking them to do some different things from what they did in the past, but they've had three line coaches the past three years. So, I don't expect things to change overnight.''

Jack Bicknell Jr. was the Steelers overmatched offensive line coach last season. He replaced Sean Kugler for one year when Kugler left to be the head coach at the University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP), his alma mater.

Beachum ended last season as the Steelers starting left tackle, while Gilbert is on the right side. Adams and Whimper are backups at both spots.

"I need to watch to see what they're good at and try to improve their game as we go forward,'' Munchak said. "But we've got good competition there, and they're all pushing each other.

"We've got four veteran tackles out here, and we're going to have some good football players and some tough decisions to make (on the offensive line). But it's a good problem to have right now.''

Beachum looks the least like an NFL offensive tackle at just 6-foot-3 and 306 pounds, but he is athletic and the most technically sound. Adams has been an underachiever, for the most part, while Gilbert has been inconsistent at best. Whimper is a career backup, but he's been an excellent spare part for the club.

Still, all four need to step up their games for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to stay upright this season and the Steelers offense to be its most effective.

"I think we're doing all right so far,'' Gilbert said. "Coach Munchak is tweaking different areas in our game, and it's showing up out here.

"It's crazy how a coach like him can share with us his experience, what worked best for him and what will work best for us. (So), I feel like I've been having the best offseason that I've had since I've been here.''

Gilbert believed that he and his offensive line mates already have seen a difference this spring.

"I see a lot of improvement in my game, in the run and the pass game,'' Gilbert said. "I just want to become a complete and top right tackle in the game. I know I'm capable of doing it, and they know I'm capable of doing it.''

Now, all Gilbert has to do is show it on the football field.