The last time that we took a look back at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster in review, it was weeks before the 2018 NFL Draft took place. It would be safe to say that quite a bit has changed since then, and the changes apply to almost every position on the roster, some major changes, some minor.
We are closing in on the opening of the Steelers’ several weeks of training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, however, so it would be a good time to pause and take stock of where the team stands at each position as we head into the most critical process of the offseason.
Position: Inside Linebacker
Total Positional Figure: 8
Ryan Shazier [Reserve/PUP]: Just because he won’t be on the field doesn’t mean Shazier won’t be a big part of what the Steelers do and are about. He will be serving what is likely to be a multitude of roles this season, including coach and scout.
Vince Williams: Williams is the only carryover starter at the position from last season, and he only inherited that job a year ago. He did have some success, particularly as a blitzer with his eight sacks, and he even picked off Tom Brady, but the team still views him as limited, which is why they take him off in sub-packages.
Tyler Matakevich: It was Matakevich who ran with the first-team defense during the spring. What and how much that means is in the eye of the beholder at least until we get to training camp, but as least verbally, the Steelers have indicated that they see him as a legitimate candidate to start.
Jon Bostic: If not Matakevich, of course, it will be Jon Bostic, whom they signed in free agency. We know his background, but he is a solid tackler and a vocal leader, even when he is the new face in the room. He will definitely get first-team reps. Whether or not he starts remains to be seen.
L.J. Fort: Fort has been around for a number of years now, but his grip on a roster spot has always been tenuous, and this year will be no different. The team does like his coverage ability though, and without Shazier, he may actually be the best they have there.
Matt Galambos: Galambos was one of two college free agents who stuck last year at the position, and he appears to be the favorite of the two. I believe he took some second-team reps in the spring.
Keith Kelsey: Kelsey has a lot of names ahead of him right now. He was the second choice for the practice squad, and will have even more competition this time.
Matthew Thomas: That competition, assuming he doesn’t make the 53-man roster, is Matthew Thomas, a rookie college free agent who has intriguing talent. The team has reported given him a ‘long look’ this spring to see what they have in him.
Players Lost: N/A
Notes and Camp Outlook:
I think it’s safe to say that this is the position on the team that offers the most training camp intrigue, as well as anxiety. A position battle for a starting job should be up for grabs. The number four and possible fifth spots are wide open as well, and I think they’d like to see Thomas take one of them.