2017 South Side Questions: How Would Matakevich Fare Starting?

The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.

Question: How would Tyler Matakevich fare if he were forced into starting action?

Fifth-year inside linebacker Vince Williams is coming off one of the better games of his career, during which he recorded two sacks to take the team lead in that category, in addition to a couple of tackles that qualified as defensive stops.

But he also suffered a hip injury early in the fourth quarter that saw him on crutches after the game. While he Tweeted after the game that he was fine and that the only thing injured was his pride after he got stiff-armed on one play, that doesn’t mean that he might not miss time.

Perhaps we will know more later today during Mike Tomlin’s press conference, but it would not be surprising if he does miss a game or two, and if he does have to sit out, then it figures to be Tyler Matakevich, the second-year player, that would take his spot.

He has come in on defense now in two of the past three games to replace Williams, and previously Ryan Shazier, albeit for one snap, due to injuries, so it’s readily apparent that he is the top reserve. Not to mention the fact that L.J. Fort has already been released once this season.

Going back to the preseason, Matakevich really did not look very good—certainly a far cry from the standout work that he delivered a year ago in the fourth quarter. The difference a year later was that he was playing a lot in the first and second quarter because Shazier missed most of the preseason due to injury, so he was playing against a higher level of opponent.

While he has gotten run over in the goal line package, however, he did not look altogether out of place coming in on Sunday. Matakevich certainly has his fan base, but I personally am not too sure how I feel getting a glimpse of him in the starting lineup.

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