Let's get one thing straight. Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert is hurt. Despite Mike Tomlin downplaying the injury after the team's 27-14 win over the New Orleans Saints on Friday night, Gilbert suffered a hyper-extended elbow which knocked him out of the game.
However, while many fans held their breath wondering what the offensive tackle situation would resemble without Gilbert to lock down the right side, they can now take a collective breath as Gilbert's injury shouldn't have him miss any time in the regular season.
"I'll be there no matter what that day," Gilbert told Dustin Dopirak of DKPittsburghSports.com. "Wrap my arm up. It doesn't matter. There's no way I'm missing that first game."
There is something to say about athlete toughness, and then there is another to be said about sheer ignorance. Gilbert says he could, and most likely will, play against Washington in the season opener on Monday Night Football, but it has yet to be seen whether he will suffer an ill effects of playing through an injury.
The injury could require offseason surgery, and Gilbert is waiting for a second opinion from famed sports physician Dr. James Andrews.
"I'm gonna have to push through it," Gilbert said. "It's something I can play through. ... It's something that's just going to have to heal. It's not going to be something that will keep me off the field."
There it is again, this time bringing up the main question, "Is a 75 or 85-percent Gilbert better than a 100-percent Ryan Harris?"
The Steelers depth at offensive tackle is not very good. With Gilbert and Alejandro Villanueva being the starters, it leaves Ryan Harris as the "swing" tackle, and primary backup at both positions, but after Harris there is a huge drop off in talent. The team is very well stacked at the interior positions, from a depth standpoint, but at tackle they remain thin.
The Steelers could be keeping their eye open for a player to be released from another NFL franchise in the coming days as teams trim their roster to 53 players, but the hope is Gilbert will hopefully be able to play at a high level, even wearing a brace for stability, and continue the quality play he displayed frequently in 2015.