The Pittsburgh Steelers brought in Jon Bostic to replace Ryan Shazier but to open up practice Tuesday, it was Tyler Matakevich getting first-team work next to Vince Williams. That news according to an article by PennLive’s Jacob Klinger, via Williams.
“Despite signing Jon Bostic, who started last season with the Indianapolis Colts, Matakevich began OTAs as the starter in the position Ryan Shazier once played, Williams said.”
The team has been high on Matakevich since drafting him in the 7th round in 2016. Kevin Colbert has repeatedly brought his name up since Shazier’s injury and openly wondered what would’ve happened had Matakevich stayed healthy all of last year. Here’s what the GM said in late April.
“Had he not gotten injured, we may have had a whole different discussion going on because Tyler was a highly productive special teams player who really hasn’t gotten to play.”
At the time, Colbert stressed the team needed to find out what they had in Matakevich and clearly, aren’t wasting anytime doing so. It’s looking like, as was the case a year ago, even if Matakevich doesn’t start, he’ll be counted on as the top backup at both inside linebacker spots.
And that is the most realistic scenario. Although Matakevich may have been taking first-team reps today, he has tenure over Bostic and has played in Keith Butler’s system, so it doesn’t come as much of a surprise. At some point, probably soon, Bostic will get his chance to run with the one’s and you should still expect him, not Matakevich, to be the starter Week One against the Cleveland Browns. Bostic has that every-down experience that was tough to find in free agency and impossible to find in the draft, at least, after Rashaan Evans came off the board.
Even as a backup, the Steelers have a lot of faith and confidence in Matakevich. If Bostic’s injury history follows him to Pittsburgh, only once has he played all 16 games, they’ll find out what they have in Dirty Red sometime this year.