Fichtner Downplays Idea Of Replacing Okorafor With Feiler At RT

Matt Feiler is poised to return for Wild Card weekend? But will he start? Based on Randy Fichtner’s comments, it doesn’t look likely. Especially to the idea that Feiler should replace Chukwuma Okorafor at right tackle. Talking with reporters on a Thursday Zoom Call, Fichtner said he didn’t like the idea of making changes to the offensive line to begin the postseason.

“I hadn’t thought about it in that regard,” Fitchner said, via team transcript, when asked about playing Feiler at RT. “I know he would be available to be one of the tackles if necessary. I’ve been pleased with Chuks [Okorafor’s] work up to this point.”

Feiler started 15 games for the Steelers at right tackle last year. But the team shifted him to left guard to replace the retired Ramon Foster. Feiler had struggled at guard throughout the season, openly admitting to adjusting how to pull on gap runs, before suffering a pectoral injury against the Buffalo Bills. He was placed on IR December 14th and began practicing this week. He remains on injured reserve but could be activated for Sunday’s Wild Card game against the Cleveland Browns.

Fichtner cautioned against making changes to the lineup for the start of the playoffs.

“I don’t know that moving a couple bodies like that would be helpful at this time, but I do know if there was an injury, I’d feel really good about it. Sometimes moving one-for-one is good. Start moving one to two and that type of thing, it gets a little dicey. And it might not be fair to Matt who hasn’t spent as much time out there. He gets some work during the week because he’s always in a position to be a backup in a tackle spot.”

His comments essentially rule out any chance of Feiler starting the game at right tackle. But could he return to his left guard spot? Fichtner was non-committal.

“We just kind of take it day-by-day. Both of them are getting work. Matt’s status is – he’s worked awful hard to get to this position and I’m proud of him. I’m proud of all the group who came out to work the other day. I think it’s a unique situation because we’re finally maybe getting healthier as a group.”

Rookie Kevin Dotson has played exceptionally well, especially in pass protection, an area where Feiler struggled throughout the season. Benching Dotson would be the wrong move, meaning the best move is to leave Feiler on the bench. He would offer important depth for an offensive line that hasn’t much much of it the last half of the season. Feiler could serve as the next man up at either guard spot and right tackle should Dotson, Okorafor, or David DeCastro suffer an injury.

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