I think it’s fair to say that Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Matt Feiler has come a long way in the past year, not just (perhaps not even especially) in terms of what he is able to bring on the field, but also in the sense of where his life has gone over that duration.
Feiler was an undrafted free agent signing by the Houston Texans in 2014, but the first time that he ever spent time on a regular season roster was last year. He served three years on practice squads, including with the Steelers in 2015 and 2016. He ran out of eligibility, so it was find a roster or a new career.
It doesn’t appear as though he has to worry about that too much a year on. He is a virtual lock to make the team this point and is being flexed out to be able to play all five positions. And what a difference that experience of the past season has made.
“I feel pretty confident and pretty comfortable”, he recently told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about his position, and of being asked to play every spot on the line. “It’s something that teams value, players being able to play multiple positions. So I’ll just continue working on every position I can”.
As I’ve previously talked about, offensive line coach Mike Munchak has already said that he is basically sold on Feiler as a guard after working with him there the past two seasons. He got a chance to start the season finale at right guard and played quite well.
What he wants to see next is if he can also play at a level above the line at both the tackle and center spots. He played center for the first time of his life this spring, but he only took snaps at guard during the preseason opener last week, and doesn’t appear to have gotten much of any work there in training camp.
But wherever and whenever he gets a chance to play, he appreciates it. “It’s kind of important for me to go out there and get the in-game experience”, he said, “just so if I do get my number called, I can step up and perform well”.
He did that last year, and did so working mostly with the starters. In addition to David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey also sat out that game and so Feiler worked alongside B.J. Finney—and then Chris Hubbard—at center.
“You get used to playing next to some [second-string] guys, and then you get thrown in with the ‘ones’ and learn kind of how they play”, he said, “and it just makes you work and craft your technique that much more”.
Feiler started the preseason opener and has been getting a lot of work with the first-team group with players either injured or getting rest. A year ago, he was just desperate for a job after three years of toiling on the practice squad. Now he’s just focused on improving himself to best help his team win a championship.