The Pittsburgh Steelers had arguably the deepest offensive line in all of football last year. This year, they’ve taken some hits, but should still have some good players behind the starters. Once Ramon Foster gets back, B.J. Finney is a very good top interior reserve, while Matt Feiler has shown potential the past year. There is upside at the reserve tackle spots.
The task of turning potential into production from the offensive line falls to Mike Munchak, one of the premiere instructors of the big blocking men of the National Football League. He has been with the Steelers since 2014 and has overseen perhaps the best line the team has ever had.
He envisions Feiler as being a key piece of the puzzle going forward, or at least finding out whether or not it’s a job he can do. After being limited only to guard work during the preseason in 2017 and finally pushing his way onto a 53-man roster on his fourth attempt, Munchak is looking to flex him out even further.
A college tackle, that is actually where Feiler first played when the Steelers originally brought him in in 2015, and most of 2016 as well. He was having less success there, however, and began to grow inside. He started in the season finale at right guard and held his own.
“He’s come a long, long way. He’s more than ready to help us at guard”, Munchak said of the second-year man who has actually been in the league since 2014. “Now the thing with Matt is to see what more can he do to help us. If we dress him on game days, can he finish a game at center? Can he finish a game at tackle?”.
Feiler took his first reps at center ever during OTAs earlier this year, and he has resumed some tackle work during training camp. He also worked at tackle last year once the regular season began, even seeing some playing time at the end of the Lions game.
“He’s at the point now where he has confidence in his ability”, his coach said. “If I move guys around from the beginning that haven’t sort of earned their way, then they never really get good at anything. Once they build confidence at one position and feel good about themselves, then all of a sudden they can do other things for you”.
Essentially, he’s saying that Feiler spent the past two years cutting his teeth on learning the guard position and playing it proficiently. Now that he has proven that he is capable of giving them serviceable production there, his next task is to expand his resume to the other spots along the line.
Most teams like to have a player like that who can play all five spots in a pinch, in the mold of Trai Essex and Chris Hubbard. The Steelers are hoping that they have found their next do-everything lineman; Feiler is hoping that he has found his long-term home.