The Pittsburgh Steelers second preseason game of 2018 will take place Thursday night on the road game against the Green Bay Packers. Prior to every preseason game this year I will spotlight one offensive and one defensive player that I believe should be focused on throughout the contest. However, none of the players that spotlight in this series will be draft picks of the team. Instead, I will focus on younger players who joined the team this year as rookie or first or second-year free agents.
The defensive player I chose to spotlight for the Steelers second preseason game against the Packers is rookie inside linebacker Matthew Thomas.
Thomas was signed as undrafted free agent this year out of Florida State where he registered 192 total tackles of which 25.5 of them resulted in lost yardage. He was also credited with 4 sacks, 4 pass breakups and one interception in the 38 total games that he played in.
At this year’s scouting combine, Thomas reportedly measured in at 6026, 232-pounds and he ran his 40-yard dash in 4.58-seconds.
Thomas made his NFL debut last Thursday night in the Steelers preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles and played 26 snaps on defense and 9 more on special teams. He registered one defensive tackle in that contest, a run stop to close out the third quarter on third down that resulted in no gain.
Thomas was also credited with one special teams tackle on a fourth quarter punt against the Eagles. Additionally, he rushed off the edge several times in the Steelers preseason opener and registered two quarterback pressures on the night and one of those nearly resulting in a sack.
Thomas, who is currently battling for either one or two inside linebacker spots, figures to get extensive playing time Thursday night against the Packers on both defense and special teams. He’ll also likely be asked to rush off the edge a few times again as well. Should he build on last week’s performance this week against the Packers, he’ll certainly strengthen his chances of making the 53-man roster this year.