Maurkice Pouncey: Jerald Hawkins ‘Would Easily Be In The Rotation’ If Not For Injury

It is starting to shape up that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ backup tackle on Sunday could be first-year offensive lineman Matt Feiler, who made the opening-day 53-man roster for the first time in four years in 2017 after spending most of his past three years on practice squads. He spent two games on the 53-man roster last year after Ryan Harris was put on injured reserve.

During the game on Sunday, right tackle Marcus Gilbert suffered a hamstring injury, and he has not been practicing this week. If he does not practice today, then he is definitely not going to be playing in two days. Even if he does return to practice, it is not a guarantee that he is going to be out there.

That would leave Chris Hubbard with the starting job there, where he played in four games, starting three, in 2016, logging over 200 snaps at right tackle overall. In fact, on Sunday, he logged snaps at both left and right tackle and at tight end. I believe right guard is the only position he has yet to rep in-game.

But why Feiler? Every single one of his nearly 200 snaps during the preseason this year came at left guard or right guard. I’m not even sure if he took any practice reps there during training camp either. He has played there in years past, but he is only just now getting back to taking those practice squads.

After all, they just drafted a tackle in the fourth round last year who is on the 53-man roster in Jerald Hawkins. Why wouldn’t he get the first crack at being the backup to the backup tackle? After two weeks of no or limited participation with a knee injury, he has been a go this week.

Jacob Klinger asked that question, and Maurkice Pouncey answered. “I just think he’s recovering from that little thing that he had, but if it wasn’t for that he would be easily in the rotation”, he told the reporter. “He’s just coming off an injury. You’re not going to just throw him out there”.

Heading into the season opener, another reporter asked Hawkins if his knee injury were serious enough to possibly warrant another stint on injured reserve, where he spent his rookie season with a shoulder injury. His response was a genuine laugh.

Still, Klinger says that when he was asked whether or not he would be deemed healthy enough to dress this week, he deferred to Tomlin. If he goes through a full week of practice, however, it would be hard to imagine him not being healthy, so he could be a healthy scratch.

But will it stay that way? Now that he is back up and running, should another injury at tackle occur, would Hawkins dress over Feiler in, say, Week 13? That is the question that I would like to get the answer to.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • CP72

    If you go by the eyeball test from the preseason games I would feel much more comfortable with Feiler out there than Hawkins. Hawkins looked confused and slow.

  • Jaybird

    The quality of the Steelers O line from top to bottom is pretty impressive and will pay huge dividends as the season wears on and starters go down with (hopefully minor) injuries. I think Feiler, Hawkins, Finney, and Hubbard could actually all start for the Giants ! That’s how bad their starters are and how good our backups are. In fact , I think there are a lot of really bad O lines around the league this year- the Yanda less Ravens are another and the Bengals look pretty bad also. The Steelers have done a great job of not only putting a great starting line together, but also of stockpiling a decent reserve of backups.

  • Jaybird

    Hawkins looked like he didn’t know what his assignment was half the time.

  • SteelCityDefense

    Honestly I hope that this level of depth is due to management’s plan for the team and the draft. Keep drafting guys who fall due to injury in the season before the draft but showed promise previously + Draft players from lower divisions that dominate their competition + Keep giving these guys first team reps through out camp while giving the vets some rest to reduce wear and tear but all the while building the young guys up to the point where they easily fit in with the starters in case of injury or otherwise and hopefully producing longevity and quality for “the goons” on both sides of the ball. I can’t recall when Munchak was hired but I do remember certain failures prior to him coaching for us… Kraig Urkick… but year since he’s been coaching we’ve been getting guys in the draft and turning them into at a minimum serviceable depth without significant drop off. Not to mention guys who go into Buffalo and WRECK SHOP. I could say a lot more but it could all just be fandom speculation. Anyway kudos to all the levels

  • Rotten Sircus

    Under Coach Munchek our O-Line can be the reason we Win it all this season !!! I wanna see what Hawkins can do !!!

  • Matthew Marczi

    At guard. Feiler’s hardly played tackle in two years.