Tomlin PC

Mike Tomlin (Aller/Getty Images)

Marcus Gilbert should return to RT. Mike Tomlin also talked about Curtis Brown, Isaac Redman, Emmanuel Sanders and Zoltan Mesko.

Guy Whimper played "above the line" as a fill-in for Marcus Gilbert at right tackle last Sunday, according to Mike Tomlin, but expect the Steelers' coach to return Gilbert to the position Sunday in Oakland.

"I'm optimistic about his availability," said Tomlin. "Not only for this game but for preparation this week."

After claiming last week "I ain't losing my damn job" while he was out with a quadriceps injury, Gilbert went down on a second-and-5 run play in the second series against the Baltimore Ravens. Whimper replaced him and played well, but not well enough to take the job.

Gilbert is just one of a handful of Steelers with minor injuries who will be monitored early this practice week. The others are DE Bret Keisel(ribs), WR Jerricho Cotchery (abdominal strain) and DE Cameron Heyward (illness).

Newly acquired tight end Richard Gordon is questionable Sunday with a sprained big toe, and rookie WR Markus Wheaton will miss his third consecutive game with a broken finger.

ILB Lawrence Timmons also broke a bone in his hand, but has been casted, retains mobility of all fingers, and will play.

BALLAD OF CURTIS BROWN

Curtis Brown led the Steelers in special-teams tackles in each of his first two seasons, but was put on the inactive list last Sunday and replaced at his gunner spot by Antwon Blake opposite Shamarko Thomas.

According to Tomlin, Brown, with only 2 special-teams tackles this season, was "a top-flight special teams player but hadn't been playing that way over the last several weeks."

DON'T LIKE IKE

Some believe RB Isaac Redman was released Monday because he told the media he had played the second game of the season with a concussion after being checked out by Steelers staff.

But it's also true that Redman disappointed the coaching staff this season because he couldn't regain the skills that led to him rushing for 897 yards (4.8 avg.) during the 2010-11 seasons, including his 24 carries for 171 yards in two playoff games.

Redman disappointed last year with 410 yards (3.7) when the team needed someone to step up in place of Rashard Mendenhall. He followed this season with a camp injury, a critical fumble in the opener, and 12 yards on 10 carries. Even at practice last week Redman stumbled in the open field and fell down, proving that he's clearly not the runner he was two years ago.

The Steelers released Redman and promoted linebacker Kion Wilson from the practice squad.

"I thought that Kion Wilson provided more flexibility for us as a teamer," Tomlin said. "He's a linebacker, viable special teams-like body, and given the number of things that have transpired -- with Jarvis (Jones) missing work, and others -- I just thought it was best to get him up on the 53 and available to us."

QUOTABLE

* On Emmanuel Sanders as a potential kickoff return man: "I'm not opposed to it, but I've got to look at the schematics before I make that determination."

* On Zoltan Mesko's punting: "He's been inconsistent. Just about every game over the last three he's had what I call a junior-varsity punt. Thankfully we only punted once (last game). ... We need more consistency there."

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