Not to toot my own horn, but I sometimes like to call my shots on some pretty obscure or unimportant matters and I’m pretty pleased with myself to have gotten this one right. Earlier this offseason, I posed the scenario in which the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to work second-year offensive lineman Matt Feiler at center, and we now know that they are.
The Steelers more than most teams really love to cover themselves for most situations. They are probably one of only a handful of teams who find it necessary (rather than merely beneficial) to carry three quarterbacks. They also always make sure that they have an emergency center on deck.
They just lost their emergency center this offseason when Chris Hubbard, who primarily became a tackle over the past two seasons, left in free agency. He worked at center a fair bit during the preseason, but his most extensive playing time there came in his most recent action, the regular season finale against the Cleveland Browns.
The Steelers having locked up their division allowed the team to rest a number of starters, center Maurkice Pouncey among them. That gave B.J. Finney the start at center, but he was injured in the first half and Hubbard had to play the rest of the game—botching a handful of snaps along the way, in fairness.
That the team is giving Feiler these reps is a great sign for him that further increases his job security. He spent three years on practice squads from 2014 through 2016 before finally making a 53-man roster last year in Pittsburgh, which was critical after running out of eligibility for the practice squad.
He spent most of the past two years working at guard, and even got to start at guard against the Browns, but also served as the backup tackle in the first half of the season when Hubbard was starting in place of the injured Marcus Gilbert.
Now he is aspiring to become an all-around utility player that can be plugged into any role, in the vein of recent players such as Hubbard, Kelvin Beachum, and Trai Essex. Chris Adamski dropped the nugget of him getting work at center yesterday in an article about rookie quarterback Mason Rudolph.
“Rudolph and veteran lineman Matt Feiler finished the first week of OTAs as the last two on the practice field among the 80-plus players who took part”, he wrote. “The pair worked on the QB-center exchange after they botched some snaps late in practice”.
The extra reps will be beneficial for both players, as Rudolph has acknowledged. He didn’t have a lot of experience playing from under center during his college career and has devoted as much time as he could since the pre-draft process began to gaining experience working from under center.
He probably didn’t realize he would be taking those snaps from a novice center, though.