Steelers News

Colbert Says Matakevich Is ‘Certainly In The Mix’ At Inside Linebacker

It goes without saying that the Pittsburgh Steelers defense suffered a huge blow in their Week 13 Monday night road game against the Cincinnati Bengals when starting inside linebacker Ryan Shazier was lost for the remainder of the season due to a serious injury to his spine. If that wasn’t a big enough blow, Shazier’s backup, Tyler Matakevich, was also effectively lost for the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury that he suffered later in that same game.

While Matakevich only missed one game because of the injury, he was only able to play on special teams the remainder of the season and that ultimately resulted in the Steelers needing to sign inside linebacker Sean Spence back to the team and he wound up seeing the most time in the starting lineup and the defense suffered severely because of that.

“I think we lose sight of the fact Matakevich was hurt (after Shazier). He was our No. 1 backup. We couldn’t play him at linebacker,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Thursday, according to Mike Prisuta of DVE Radio.

Also during Colbert’s annual pre-combine talk with the local media on Thursday he further addressed the team’s current situation at the inside linebacker position and while he did indicate there’s a possibility another inside linebacker might be signed during the upcoming free agent signing period, he didn’t discount the fact that Matakevich could potentially be a starter in 2018 should Shazier ultimately be unable to recover from his injury.

“Tyler’s certainly in the mix,” Colbert said of Matakevich, who was drafted by the Steelers in the seventh-round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Temple. “We’ll continue to look at other options in free agency and the draft.”

While Matakevich, who has since undergone offseason shoulder surgery, should indeed be in the mix to potentially replace Shazier as the team’s starter alongside fellow inside linebacker Vince Williams in 2018, it’s really hard to imagine him winning that job as we sit here in the middle February and especially if the Steelers ultimately sign a free agent inside linebacker at decent price in the coming six weeks. Matakevich, in my honest opinion, is best-suited to play the strong side inside linebacker position that Williams normally plays as he’s just not athletic enough to play the weak side spot that Shazier has played.

Even if the Steelers don’t ultimately sign a higher-profile inside linebacker during the free agent period, you can probably count on them selecting one in the first two rounds of this year’s draft. In short, expect Matakevich to have plenty of new competition this offseason via both the draft and free agency and while he might not ultimately win a starting job, he’s sure to make the final 53-man roster again as a backup and core special teams player, which is a role he’s been very, very good at in his first two seasons in the NFL.

To Top
error: Alert: Content is protected !!