2017 Steelers Pre-Training Camp Roster Review: Inside Linebacker

The last time that we took a look back at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster in review, it was very shortly after the 2016 season ended. It would be safe to say that quite a bit has changed, and, in a rarity, this actually applies to literally every position on the roster, including the quarterbacks and specialists.

We are closing in on the opening of the Steelers’ several weeks of training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, however, so it would be a good time to pause and take stock of where the team stands at each position as we head into the most critical process of the offseason.

Position: Inside Linebacker

Total Positional Figure: 7

Additions: 2

Deletions: 2

Players Retained:

Ryan Shazier: Shazier already proved last season that he is a Pro Bowl talent when healthy. He simply needs to be healthier more frequently.

Vince Williams: Williams is the biggest question mark on the entire team simply because he is the only new starter from the end of last season. He does have some starting experience, and the Steelers are comfortable with him, but it has to be seen to be believed.

Tyler Matakevich: The second-year draft pick established himself as a staple on special teams, but would like to prove that he is more than that. His athletic limitations—which some reporters have indicated was on display in his coverage work in the spring—will be the crux.

Steven Johnson: Johnson is a veteran special-teams standout. He had a brief period of activity last season before suffering a season-ending injury but was brought back.

L.J. Fort: The most athletic of the Steelers’ reserve inside linebackers, that could be his selling point. He has had a role on special teams as well, of course.

Players Added:

Keith Kelsey: A rookie undrafted free agent, Kelsey has gotten some positive chatter, but anybody this far down the depth chart has their work cut out for them.

Matt Galambos: The Pittsburgh product was able to make the 90-man roster after being a rookie minicamp invitee, but he still has a long way to go to make the team.

Players Lost:

Lawrence Timmons: A 10-year mainstay and Pro Bowler, Timmons’ loss will certainly be felt, and he will have a lasting legacy in Pittsburgh that includes a Super Bowl title, though he wasn’t a full-time starter yet at the time.

Akil Blount: The son of Mel Blount, he signed a Reserve/Future contract back in February, but the Steelers released him in a roster move made back in May.

Notes and Camp Outlook: 

I don’t think there is going to be any competition for the vacated starting buck position. It’s Williams’ role. But there will be some jockeying for position behind the starters about who is going to be the top reserve, or if there will be split duties between the mack and buck. The last couple of spots could be in flux as well based on special teams performance.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • RickM

    It’ll be an interesting year. Injuries scare the heck out of me. I never really appreciated Timmons’ durability, probably because we had decent back-ups behind him. Now I’m very unsure that we have the necessary depth to withstand injuries to Shazier and/or Williams. I’m pretty sure we’ll find out at some point(s) during the regular season what our depth is like.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    dirty red needs to take a step forward.

  • Rocksolid20

    Moats can step in too , if needed .

  • Charles Mullins

    “which some reporters have indicated” links please

  • Matthew Marczi

    It was behind a paywall.

  • Kevin Reich

    If LJ Fort is the most athletic, what are his limitations? Strength? IQ?

  • Terrible Towlie

    it would be better for the team and Moats to move inside….after Vince and Shazier we dont really have anything

  • Terrible Towlie

    right now it appears we have very little depth…our ILB depth may not be on the team yet

  • MP34

    I think it’s size. He’s in the 6’1, 235 range. He’s not particularly strong, not particularly fast. Oddly, he seems to pass rush well, so I think he’s quick, with a good range of motion.