2018 Camp Questions: Game Edition – What To See From ILBs?

The offseason is over. Football is back. The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in Latrobe at Saint Vincent College and training camp is underway. As we are every year, we will be right there providing live feedback and updates, and will be supplementing ourselves throughout the day, every day.

The Steelers are coming off a frustrating season to say the least, posting a 13-3 record with a first-round bye only to be dumped in the Divisional Round by a team that beat them twice, even though they hadn’t even been to the playoffs in a decade.

They’ve added the ingredients that they think they need to fix what ails them, adding new players and coaches, while getting rid of others. Now is when they start mixing up those ingredients and trying to create something powerful.

We still have a lot of questions about this team, and we’ll be monitoring the practices and preseason games looking for answers. As we always do.

Question: Gameday Edition – What do you want to see out of the inside linebacker position that would make you more comfortable with where the team is?

There is no greater source of anxiety for Steelers fans than the state of the inside linebacker position, which is not where any of us expected to be a year ago. Ryan Shazier was one of the central pieces of a rebuilding defense, a great talent with elite potential who was still coming into his own.

Shazier now watches from the sidelines as the team figures out who between Tyler Matakevich and Jon Bostic would have a less deleterious impact to their efforts in replacing the two-time Pro Bowler in the starting lineup.

I try to read as many of your comments as I can, so I know perfectly well just how much concern there is about the state of the inside linebacker position. It was never supposed to be this way in the first place. The team had every intention of coming out of the first round of the 2018 NFL draft with one of the top four players as the position, but it just didn’t work out.

During the preseason opener, both Matakevich and Bostic made and missed a couple of plays, but overall neither of them were particularly impactful during their playing time. In fact, each of their most significant moments of the day may have been tackles that they missed rather than made.

So the question that I have for you during the Steelers’ second preseason game is this: coming out of the contest with less anxiety about the state of the inside linebacker position, what will have had to have happened in order to get you to that point?

What do you need to see from Bostic and/or Matakevich today that would get you to start changing your mind about what the team can do and how far they can go with them in the lineup?

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