When the Pittsburg Steelers initially selected Tyler Matakevich as a seventh-round pick in the NFL Draft back in 2016, they had no solid plans of using him. The man from Temple wasn’t deemed as an ideal long-term starter, besides; the Steelers weren’t exactly looking for depth in their squad. They were counting on starters, Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier to boost Pittsburg Steelers odds, while Vince Williams had by then been established as the go-to backup. Pittsburg passed on the opportunity to re-sign Terrence Garvin but ended up signing free agent Steven Johnson. L.J Fort was called back to the team and Jordan Zumwalt was still around.
So why draft him then? According to Mike Tomlin, the Head Coach, Tyler Matakevich is simply a football player. The guy surprised fans by being called to the team and helping Pittsburg Steelers odds by leading them in special tackles in the first and second seasons he’s played for them. He still blocked two punts and defended a pass on a fake punt last year; and might soon be named a starting linebacker on the inside in 2018. While appearing with Steelers Nation Unite recently, Tomlin had to answer a question about Matakevich’s chances of being a starter after being fielded over Jon Bostic in the first team defense during spring.
His reply to the man was that he had so much confidence in Tyler; further elaborating that his opportunity, more than anything, depended on his health. This is after he played a significant part of the previous season while nursing a shoulder injury which had been surgically operated on in the off-season. In 2017 when Matakevich entered the season, he was the primary backup linebacker for the team after Shazier and Williams, the player who took Timmons place in the starting squad. However, he suffered an injury to his shoulder in the sixth week and aggravated it in the same game that Shazier was injured. This really hurt Pittsburg Steelers odds by sidelining him for the remainder of the season.
Tomlin continued by saying that the chances Matkevich gets over the course of training camp to the postseason will be dependent on his overall health. Going by how fine things had been working out thus far, he expressed optimism about him being in a position to play a crucial role in the defense.
What should be noted from Tomlin’s answer is that while he didn’t necessarily promise that Matakevich will be a starter, the phrase, “significant role” that he chose to use comes across as very telling, as some people would say.
The other thing is that he said these words to a member of SNU, meaning that he was somehow compelled to give a more serious answer that may be more believable. The guy even remembered to mention that he was a colleague of Matakevich’s father.
Finally, it is worth noting how Tomlin pegged the player’s potential to his health. This doesn’t exactly feel like they are limiting the potential for the role he might just earn.