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Steelers notebook: Right tackle Marcus Gilbert 'itching' to return to lineup Sunday

| Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, 1:12 p.m.
Steelers offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert plays against the Browns on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert plays against the Browns on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Steelers offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert plays against the Vikings on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert plays against the Vikings on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, at Heinz Field.
Greensburg Salem's Mark Brown competes in the Class AA boys race during the WPIAL cross country championships Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, at Cooper's Lake Campground. Brown finished fourth with a time of 16:55.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Greensburg Salem's Mark Brown competes in the Class AA boys race during the WPIAL cross country championships Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, at Cooper's Lake Campground. Brown finished fourth with a time of 16:55.

The previous two weeks, Marcus Gilbert practiced Wednesday only to have a balky hamstring force him to shut it down.

Call it a pair of false starts for the Steelers right tackle.

Not this week, Gilbert said.

“Absolutely not,” Gilbert said when asked if the same scenario would play out a third time in advance of this week's game at Kansas City. “I have been itching and waiting to get back out there, and every little chance I got, I took advantage of it.

“The coaches gave me the choice this week to really let me go and unleash myself, and I'm feeling really good and I'm excited to get back out there.”

Gilbert hasn't played since leaving during the fourth quarter of the Week 2 home win against Minnesota. At the time during the muggy day, the Steelers announced Gilbert was out with “cramps,” and he was riding a stationary bike on the sidelines.

“I didn't think it was gonna be that big of a deal. I just came out just to not make things worse,” Gilbert said. “I played the next snap after I hurt my hamstring, and it just didn't respond as well as I would have liked it to have.”

Gilbert expressed confidence early in each of the following two practice weeks that he would be able to play in games at Baltimore and against Jacksonville, respectively. He practiced fully each week on Wednesday — but not the rest of either week and did not play.

“I just wanted to see how my hamstring was going to respond,” Gilbert said. “It didn't respond the way I wanted it to, so I didn't want to push the issue and have a major setback. I think I took the right approach.”

If Gilbert plays Sunday, the Steelers could have all 22 starters healthy and active for the first time this season.

The only other players on the injury report after practice were guard Ramon Foster (back), center Maurkice Pouncey (chest) and linebacker Ryan Shazier (quadriceps). None of the injuries is expected to be serious.

Talk ‘gets to' Bell

Giggling when asked about it and brushing it off as “understand, I was in a certain state of mind right there,” Le'Veon Bell downplayed his Monday evening Twitter scuffle with former Steelers teammate Ryan Clark.

“I already said what I had to say,” Bell said Wednesday. “I just don't like people going and talking about my teammates. It kind of gets to me a little bit.”

Now an analyst for ESPN and asked to speak about receiver Antonio Brown's sideline tantrum Oct. 1 in Baltimore, Clark said Brown was “selfish.”

Among several tweets, Bell posted: “you're not in our locker room anymore, so don't act like youu know what's goin on in the “steelers” locker room.”

“I feel like I have to just defend my teammates and myself,” Bell said Wednesday. “I think people on the outside think certain things about my teammates; I just didn't like it. I said what I said, and I let it go.”

Rogers ready to return

Eli Rogers developed a rapport with Ben Roethlisberger late last season, and he thinks they can recapture that chemistry.

Rogers was inactive the past two games, but he could return at slot receiver and punt returner Sunday.

He had six catches for 54 yards in three games. After three games last season, he had nine catches for 100 yards and a touchdown.

“I missed three games last year, so I'm not panicking or stressing about anything,” Rogers said. “If I focus on working hard and on what I have to do, every day will clear itself out.”

Bengals game moved

The Steelers' game on Oct. 22 against the Cincinnati Bengals was moved from 1 p.m. to a 4:25 p.m. kickoff.

The switch is part of the NFL's flexible scheduling system. With the change, the Steelers have only two more 1 p.m. kickoffs scheduled the rest of the season: Sunday, Nov. 12, at Indianapolis and Sunday, Dec. 31, at home against Cleveland. Starting Oct. 29 at Detroit, the Steelers have five prime-time kickoffs scheduled within a span of six games.

Chris Adamski and Joe Rutter are Tribune-Review staff writers. Reach them at cadamski@tribweb.com and jrutter@tribweb.com.

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