Ah, actual football is back, and that means with it comes actual games to break down. As I’ve gotten a chance to go over the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first preseason game some more, it’s time to get started on some film breakdowns, and I want to kick off the day with a brief look at second-year lineman Matt Feiler.
I would say that Feiler is a player who has come a long way in a short time, but the truth is that he has actually been in the NFL for five years already, spending three years on the practice squad (including one in Houston) before finally making the 53-man roster a season ago. At this point, he’s a virtual lock to make the team again.
And he is playing a prominent role right now with Ramon Foster and B.J. Finney on the sidelines, working with the starters at left guard. He got to start at right guard in place of a resting David DeCastro during last year’s season finale and played well, so he was looking on Thursday to pick up where he left off in 2017.
We’ll start at the very beginning of the game, and keeping in mind the fact that we’re dealing with the preseason here, during which we don’t have access to the coaches tape, so we’re limited to whatever is available on the broadcast.
Right from play one, though, Feiler showed his ability to be an asset in the running game. He helped to clear the defensive tackle out of the hole to provide a running lane for running back James Conner, who picked up a healthy eight yards to kick things off.
Working against the outside linebacker later in the first quarter, Feiler clearly proved to have the physical advantage, stalemating him at the meeting point and preventing him from turning a shoulder back toward the play, which went to the inside of the field. Conner once again picked up another eight yards thanks in part to the real estate cleared by the second-year lineman’s blocking.
We’ll take a look at one more play from multiple points of view. In the middle of the second quarter, Fitzgerald Toussaint found space up the middle for a 17-yard gain.
Looking at it from the end zone camera makes Feiler’s role in the performance more evident. Working into the second level, he stoned the inside linebacker and forced him to give ground, allowing the running back to cut inside behind him and find open real estate.
Once an afterthought, he is pretty much taken as a given as valuable depth at this point. Offensive line coach Mike Munchak fully trusts him at guard. Now he just wants to see how much he can offer at the other line positions as well.