PITTSBURGH — Ulysees Gilbert III has always been a young player that the Steelers have had high hopes for defensively. The Akron graduate ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash coming out of college. Few guys on the Steelers roster can fly around as he does, and he certainly has the speed the Steelers like at their Mack position.
However, his first two seasons have been derailed by his back. Both years were cut short, with Gilbert landing on the injured reserve in both 2019 and 2020 after a series of back injuries that he is trying to manage. Luckily, Gilbert says that his back is feeling much better, and the Steelers put a routine together for him to keep it healthy.
“My back’s feeling good,” Gilbert said after practice this week. “I have a routine every day that I continue to do to keep my back healthy and feeling good. So, I’m excited man. I’m thankful for the opportunity that is ahead of me and thankful for the opportunity to just be out here every day.”
That third chance will come mainly first through special teams, which Gilbert has already proven he is an expert at during his rookie season. Moreover, Gilbert was the linebacker in the Steelers’ Dime package with Devin Bush out last season. But he is still not sure if that role will be his in 2021.
“I’m kinda open to wherever they want me to be,” Gilbert III said. “I’m really just taking day by day. I’m allowing myself to sharpen my skills wherever I need to be. Wherever they need me, I want to be ready to be willing and able.”
Gilbert has learned both the Mack (behind Bush) and Buck (behind Robert Spillane) linebacker roles in the Steelers defense. So, it seems that he is capable of doing both if need be. With Buddy Johnson and Marcus Allen also fighting for positions in the inside linebackers unit, Gilbert will need a strong showing to secure the third spot.