Gilbert: 'Everyone has to step it up a notch'


When you lose a leader at a position, you can't always just ask one guy to step up and take over. Sometimes it requires more, even an entire unit.

And when it comes to the offensive line losing center Maurkice Pouncey, a Pro Bowl center, that is definitely the case.

Yes, the responsibility of lining up at the center position and handling those duties will fall on Cody Wallace and possibly Doug Legursky. But the entire line is going to have to step up as well.

"It's tough. He is the leader of the group, one of the leaders of the offense," said tackle Marcus Gilbert of Pouncey. "To lose a guy like him, it's not someone you can just replace. Not only is he one of the best players on the team, he is one of the smartest. He makes the calls. He is a guy you can't replace from that standpoint, his athleticism and physical play. He is the best in the league.

"You have to rally around everyone and everyone has to step it up a notch. The next man up mentality comes into effect. We will rally around Cody and take charge."

Wallace is no stranger to stepping in and starting when needed. He did so in 2013 after Fernando Velasco, signed to replace the injured Pouncey that season, also was injured. He also started two games at guard last season when Ramon Foster was injured. 

"We have a great deal of confidence in Cody," said Gilbert. "He has proven he can come in and fill any role at guard and center. He has done a phenomenal job. We just have to hope for the best."

The Steelers also added Legursky this week, who can play both center and guard and also has starting experience.

"He is familiar with the offense," said Gilbert of Legursky. "That makes it easier. He is comfortable with everyone. He started in the Super Bowl. He has proven himself. He has experience. To bring a guy like that back is remarkable."

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