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Steelers

After missing first game, Steelers' Gilbert ready for Jaguars

Joe Rutter
| Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, 2:03 p.m.
The Steelers' Marcus Gilbert celebrates with JuJu Smith-Schuster after his fourth-quarter touchdown against the Texans on Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, at NRG Stadium in Houston.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' Marcus Gilbert celebrates with JuJu Smith-Schuster after his fourth-quarter touchdown against the Texans on Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Unlike the regular-season meeting in Week 5, right tackle Marcus Gilbert will be in the starting lineup Sunday when the Steelers play the Jacksonville Jaguars in a divisional playoff game at Heinz Field.

The percentages weigh in the Steelers' favor by having Gilbert on the field.

The Steelers were 7-0 in games Gilbert started his season, 6-3 when they played without him.

Gilbert missed a third consecutive game with a hamstring injury Oct. 8 when the Jaguars stunned the Steelers, 30-9.

The Steelers held a 9-7 lead in the third quarter before the collapse began.

Gilbert watched the Jaguars limit Le'Veon Bell to 47 yards rushing on 15 carries and intercept Ben Roethlisberger a career-high five times, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Roethlisberger faced heavy pressure on several of his interceptions.

“I was on the sideline, and it was tough to watch because we had the game in control,” Gilbert said. “To drop an egg like that was heartbreaking.”

Gilbert would miss two more games in the first half when his hamstring problems resurfaced. Then, he was suspended for four games in the second half because of a performance-enhancing drug violation.

Veteran backup Chris Hubbard started nine games at tackle in place of Gilbert, who returned for the final two games of the season.

“He's done an awesome job of getting back up to speed,” coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday. “We're comfortable with Hubb and the work he provided us, so I'm not looking for any significant difference there as far as how the game may unfold because of that availability, but I'm obviously glad to have Marcus back and I'm glad his play is trending in the right direction.”

Gilbert could be matched up against Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell, the NFL sack leader with 14.5 in the regular season. In the Week 5 matchup, Campbell had half a sack but totaled four quarterback pressures.

“He's very challenging,” Gilbert said. “A big guy who can play any spot on the defensive line. He's very disruptive and whoever has him has to control him. It's not an easy task, and we all know that. That's the fun part about football, you get to go against the best players, and he's one of them in our way to the next round. It's a great challenge for us.”

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

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