If consistency and a solid left tackle are necessities for a good offensive line the Steelers had both last season with Max Starks.

A case easily could be made he was their best offensive lineman in 2012 even though center Maurkice Pouncey was named to his third consecutive Pro Bowl. What's more Starks was the only offensive lineman to take every snap last season -- a rarity on a line that seems to be juggled annually because of injuries.

But Starks was part of a house-cleaning in an offseason that saw the Steelers get rid of three of their top six offensive linemen leaving what is considered the most important position on the line to be handled by Marcus Gilbert a second-round draft choice in 2011 who has played mostly on the right side.

Gilbert also is coming off a nasty ankle injury in which the tendon tore away from the bone causing him to miss 11 games and eventually be placed on injured reserve.

"They know what I'm capable of from what they've seen from me in the past" Gilbert said. "To be that left tackle they have to have a lot of confidence and I feel like they have that in me."

The Steelers have not always been sure what they have in Gilbert.

They were so upset with his conditioning and attitude in his first training camp that they had Pouncey his friend and college teammate at Florida try to motivate him. It was Pouncey who recommended the Steelers draft Gilbert.

Gilbert started 13 games as a rookie after right tackle Willie Colon sustained a season-ending injury in the opening game but there were times when the coaches wondered about his durability and ability to play through nagging injuries.

Gilbert changed some of that opinion in 2012 when he injured his knee in the second quarter of the season opener in Denver and did not return. But he played the following week against the Jets and started the next four games until the serious ankle injury that ended his season.

Despite that the Steelers did not re-sign Starks and handed the job to Gilbert who prefers playing left tackle rather than the right side.

"The quarterback has to trust me" Gilbert said. "If he doesn't have your trust and he doesn't trust you I wouldn't be in the position I'm in right now."

Gilbert said he is fully recovered from his ankle injury and worked hard to come to training camp in great shape. But it didn't appear that way Friday after the annual run test when he dropped to the turf and had to be attended to by several teammates. He eventually was carted from the field.