Pittsburgh Steelers rookie linebacker Tyler Matakevich saw quite a bit of playing time in the team’s 17-0 Thursday night preseason loss at Heinz Field to the Philadelphia Eagles as the Temple product was on the field for 21 defensive snaps in addition to 9 special teams snaps. Matakevich finished the game with 6 combined tackles of which 5 came while playing on defense. Pro Football Focus was very impressed with Matakevich’s play Thursday and according to them, the Steelers seventh round draft pick this year posted the single best inside linebacker performance of the preseason heading into Friday night’s games.
While I’m not going to show you all 30 snaps that Matakevich played Thursday night against the Eagles, I will show the 6 plays that he registered a tackle stat on.
Matakevich’s first tackle in the game came on special teams as part of the punt coverage team. While the Eagles punt returner managed to get quite a few yards on this particular play, you have to admire Matakevich’s effort as he finally chased him down from behind. Luckily for the Steelers, the Eagles were penalized for an illegal block above the waist on the return.
While Matakevich played quite a bit on special teams early on in the game, he didn’t begin seeing snaps on defense until the fourth quarter. On this 2nd and 4 counter running play, Matakevich slips past the second-level block of the left tackle and trips up the running back for a short gain.
On this 3rd and short play, Matakevich drops into zone coverage in the middle of the field while also spying the quarterback. While the young linebacker does ultimately tackle the scrambling quarterback, it’s unfortunately after a first down was gained.
On this 3rd and short draw play, Matakevich knives through a gap on the right side of the Eagles offensive line and earns a solo tackle for a loss.
On this counter to the Eagles right side, Matakevich defeats the block attempt by the left tackle and he an outside linebacker Travis Feeney split the tackle
On Matakevich’s final tackle of the game, the linebacker scrapes around the outside of the line to fill the gap on the split-zone run play
Matakevich has two more preseason games to show that he belongs on this years 53-man roster. He currently appears to be in a good battle with fellow linebacker L.J. Forte, so watch very closely how the two play on special teams in addition to defense in the coming weeks.