A lot of fans will certainly be rooting for new Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Tyler Matakevich to make the final 53-man roster this year after being selected late in the seventh-round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Temple and should that ultimately wind up being the case, it will be because the team believes in his ability to contribute on special teams.
Matakevich, who recorded nearly 500 tackles during his college career, is well aware of the challenges that await him during training camp and the preseason in addition to what it will take for him to make the final roster.
“It’s funny, that’s how I first got on the field my freshman year and I learned really quickly whatever my role is when I was a freshman I was going to take that role and run with it,” said Matakevich in a Friday interview on Steelers Nation Radio. “And people don’t understand, special teams is a third of the game. Everyone just thinks it’s offense and defense, but really, special teams is just as important as those others. So to me, I can’t wait to just get out there and run down on kickoff. That’s my goal is to be out there running down on kickoff that first game and I’m going to do whatever I have to do to make that happen.”
It’s been a while since Matakevich has had to contribute on special teams as he wasn’t asked to cover kickoffs and punts much, if any, since his freshman year being as he was a starter on defense his final three years. With that said, the fact that he was able to register so many tackles at Temple should help his cause when it comes to making an impact this offseason on special teams with the Steelers.
After he was drafted, Matakevich revealed that at least one Steelers linebacker reached out to him to congratulate him and welcome him to the team.
“Ryan Shazier texted just saying, ‘Hey, congratulations, welcome to Steeler Nation and just get ready to work because we’re trying to get those rings,'” said Matakevich. “That’s what he said and to hear a guy like him say that, to me that meant a lot. Not only just for him to go out of his way to reach out to me, but just to hear him say hey, we’re going to get those rings, it makes me even more hungrier to go out there and succeed on the field knowing that you got all of the rest of the guys around you that are trying to do the same thing.”
Matakevich has already been afforded the opportunity to see the Steelers six Lombardi Trophies on display at the team’s facility and that experience, as you would expect, made quite an impression on him.
“It’s unreal,” said Matakevich. “I mean you watch it on TV and you know the history, and just to be able to know that I could be a part of that this upcoming season and the future, it means the world to me. And I’m just so happy to be here and I just can’t wait.”
Matakevich, along with the rest of the Steelers rookies and first year players, is currently taking part in the team’s annual rookie mini-camp which got underway Friday morning in Pittsburgh.