The Pittsburgh Steelers signed inside linebacker Vince Williams to a new contract on Tuesday and being as he was originally a sixth-round draft pick, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked Tuesday during his press conference if he’s seen any similarities between the Florida State product and one of this year’s seventh round selections, linebacker Tyler Matakevich.
“Both got great football intellect for young people,” said Tomlin of Williams and Matakevich. “They play with an edge, a great deal of passion and they love to play, and I think that those are things that you look for at that position particularly.”
Williams obviously heard his new contract as a spot starter and special teams contributor over the course of the last three seasons and now Matakevich will be looking to prove he can follow that same path. While not blessed with great speed or overall agility, Matakevich, who recorded neary 500 tackles during his college career at Temple, has been impressive so far in the team’s first two preseason games and Steelers inside linebackers coach Jerry Olsavsky has certainly noticed that and he sees a lot of himself in the young linebacker.
“If you know you’re a good player, if you grew up playing football and you know it, then you have no problem,” Olsavsky said, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “That’s was my case. I got here and I was like, OK, you have a couple bad practices and then you say, wait a minute, I think I can play up here. And next thing you know you’re in the league for a long time. Having the benefit of having gone through that, I try to tell Tyler that.”
While Matakevich has indeed played well so far during the preseason, so too has fellow inside linebacker L.J. Fort and it will be interesting to see these two players continue to battle against each other the rest of the preseason as both should see considerable amounts of playing time in the team’s final two exhibition games.
“That’s what we like, we’re after football players,” Olsavsky said of Matakevich. “The guys like him. They recognize he has talent. It’s good for me, it’s good for the team because he kind of gets what’s going on.”