Despite Injury, Tyler Matakevich Impressing Coaching Staff

It’s been a bumpy, likely painful end to Tyler Matakevich’s season. After getting the chance to run with the starting defense after Ryan Shazier’s injury, Matakevich suffered some sort of shoulder injury later in that game. Mike Tomlin has already confirmed he’s going to need some sort of surgery after the season, restricting him to only his usual special teams work while Sean Spence and L.J. Fort get reps at inside linebacker.

He’s made the best of what I guess you could call a bad situation, continuing to excel on special teams. He’s got three tackles over the past three weeks and partially deflected a punt in Week 17, giving the Steelers great field position.

Circling back to Bob Labriola’s conversation with Danny Smith in Coordinator’s Corner, Smtih couldn’t help but praise the man they call Dirty Red.

“He’s a great student of the game,” Smith said. “He’s a hell of a special team player. He’s a great asset to us. Very productive player. I love the guy to death.”

Matakevich finished 5th on the Steelers in special teams snaps, racking up 281. He plays with the relentless effort needed on special teams and why it was so smart for the team to draft him in the seventh round. A great athlete he is not but when you’re picking in the final round, you’re looking for high effort players who are going to make the locker room better and more competitive.

And I think – excuse the rant – part of that is fueled by Smith. A guy who wears his heart on his sleeve and actively roots for his guys. Has their back, pushes them, and gets the message across of how valuable special teams in. Put it simply, guys “buy in” to the system and if you don’t have that, you definitely won’t have a great unit.

The Steelers have plenty of talented special teamers. Anthony Chickillo, Roosevelt Nix (my personal favorite), Fort, and Matakevich. Those are guys who have shown the ability to move up the ranks. All those guys have seen snaps on their side of the ball even if they were originally added to the roster as pure special teamers.


About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • Conserv_58

    I read a couple of weeks ago Tyler suffered a separated shoulder against the bengals. It’s pretty darn amazing that he’s even playing, let alone excelling in his role.

  • Alex Kozora

    Yeah it’s something like that. Serious enough that it needs operated on after the year. Not sure how he’s doing it but happy to see it.

  • CoachCot


  • DoctorNoah

    I am ready to see that Pro Bowl nod next year. Got shafted this year.

  • Rotten Sircus

    Dirty Red is PURE STEELER, The new Jack Ham or Lambert …he’s ALWAYS on the Highlights injured or not !!!

  • NavyDoc

    Most likely, Red has a torn labrum. You can play through those for a limited time. Eventually, they need repaired like he will have in the offseason. He’ll get a Toradol injection before the game as well as a heavy tape job and should be effective.

  • ND_Steel

    Late round pick to excelling as a ST demon, Dirty Red is making the most of his opportunities.

    I don’t see him as a viable option at ILB though. Decent instincts, average speed, too small though to take on OGs.

  • Rich Stafford

    I love even in a complementary piece his so called lack of athleticism is brought up. You don’t have to be a track star to play inside. You have to have a nose for the ball and he has that in spades. I hope they give him a fair chance to win the job next season.