OLT Max Starks' return to a prominent role on the offensive line was one of the season's pleasant surprises for the Steelers but his future with the club is uncertain for multiple reasons. Not only is Starks slated to be an unrestricted free agent, but he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the season-ending loss to Denver. With ORT Willie Colon to return after missing all but one game in 2011 with a torn triceps, rookie Marcus Gilbert could be an option at left tackle, a daily team observer told PFW. Re-signed in October, Starks stepped back into the lineup at left tackle and played well for a line that had no shortage of injury concerns. "He was probably one of our more consistent players, because he lasted the entire season once he came back, and especially on our O-line, that says a lot because of all the turnover with injuries," OL Trai Essex told reporters this week. Added Essex, also a free agent: "I know he is devastated going into a free-agency year, but he will bounce back like he always does."