Steelers’ Gilbert looking to overcome shaky start

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Marcus Gilbert is a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ long-range plans. Good thing, because the short term hasn’t been so kind to the right tackle.

Gilbert has allowed four sacks in two weeks, including a pair to Baltimore defensive end Elvis Dumervil in a 26-6 loss to the Ravens.

Throw in two momentum-sapping penalties and it’s not exactly the kind of start Gilbert envisioned after signing a lengthy contract extension days before the season opener.

Still, Gilbert is trying to remain upbeat. So is his head coach.

“You play 60-plus snaps, (and) if you give up two sacks it’s a bad game,” Mike Tomlin said. “It is what it is. I’m not concerned about Marcus and his ability to rebound from that (and) his mentality in regard to that rebound. … I expect him to come back fighting like Rocky.”

Tomlin added that Gilbert’s struggles against the Ravens were an “Elvis Dumervil problem,” specific to Dumervil’s unique talents than any specific issue with Gilbert’s play.

Dumervil had his way at times with the 6-foot-6, 330-pound Gilbert. At one point Dumervil shoved Gilbert into quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

“As much fun as it was to laugh about four or five days later, I think it was more humbling to Marcus to have something like that happen to him,” Roethlisberger said.

Gilbert insisted he’s not feeling the need to produce immediate dividends from the six-year, $30-million contract he agreed to during the preseason. The deal included a $7 million signing bonus, a lot of money for a player that has struggled to stay healthy.

“It doesn’t put any more pressure on me,” Gilbert said. “Obviously, when everybody counts on you, you need to do your job to the best of your ability. It’s my job to keep guys from getting to our quarterback, so I guess you could say there’s a lot of pressure about that.”

Gilbert believed he played “pretty solid” against the Ravens outside the two sacks.

“That’s something to get better at and I take initiative and take pride in keeping the defenders off the quarterback,” he said.

Gilbert’s run blocking is one of the reasons the Steelers (1-1) are sixth in total offense (402 yards per game) through two games. He will be tested on Sunday night at Carolina (2-0), which features one of the league’s top defenses led by an athletic and relentless front seven.

Still, he said there is plenty of room for improvement after stalling out against the Ravens. After rolling up 27 points in the first half of the opener against Cleveland, Pittsburgh has been outscored 50-9.

“We just need to have more efficient runs on first and second downs, because … you don’t want to get behind the chains,” Gilbert said. “We let that happen too often in the past six quarters.”

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