Marcus Gilbert's Opt-Out Leaves Right Tackle Unknown
Projected starters: LT D.J. Humphries, LG Justin Pugh, C Mason Cole, RG J.R. Sweezy, RT Justin Murray
Solid backups: T Kelvin Beachum, T Josh Jones, G Max Garcia, C/G Lamont Gaillard
On the bubble: T Joshua Miles, T Brett Toth, C/G Sam Jones, G Koda Martin, G Steven Gonzalez
Just when it appeared that right tackle was Marcus Gilbert’s job to lose, he decided to opt out of the season because of the novel coronavirus and his seld-professed "high-risk" designation, leaving that competition wide open.
Will it be Justin Murray, who started 12 games there last season after Gilbert tore his ACL? Rookie third-round draft pick Josh Jones was a left tackle in college, so that will be an adjustment. That’s the same story for Beachum, who was signed July 17 as a free agent and has played along the left side for virtually his entire time with the Steelers, Jaguars and Jets. He brings stable experience to the group and has started 99 games during his eight-year career.
Left tackle is in the able hands of D.J. Humphries, while the interior appears set with Cole at center along with Justin Pugh and J.R. Sweezy at guard. Don’t count out Jones possibly getting a look at guard, with Sweezy potentially sliding to center. However, Cole was the starter in his rookie year of 2018 when A.Q. Shipley was lost for the season and with Shipley likely not returning at this point, Cole looks more than capable of handling the job again.
Max Garcia and Lamont Gaillard seem likely to win backup jobs with Joshua Miles facing a numbers game. Most teams keep at most eight or nine linemen. A new game-day rule for this season allows teams to dress 48 players instead of 46, as long as there are eight offensive linemen active.
With 16 players on the practice squad this season, Brett Toth, Koda Martin, Miles and Steven Gonzalez could be fighting for at least two jobs in that group.
Next up: TIGHT ENDS