There have been only a handful of consistent bright spots on the Pittsburgh Steelers this year. Antonio Brown. Javon Hargrave. Tyler Matakevich’s name should be tossed into that conversation. A special teams standout, he’s been rewarded as a captain the past two weeks.
Mike Tomlin praised his efforts at today’s press conference.
“He’s made some significant special teams plays for us,” Tomlin said. “He blocked a kick in Week One. He foiled the fake punt in Week Two. We’re doing our special teams captain based on merit and play within games. He’s been a really positive, consistent performer so far.”
While according to ESPN, he has just one tackle on the year, his impact has been felt in other ways. It’s been a strong start to the season for the man known affectionately as Dirty Red. He had an excellent training camp and earned the coaching staff’s trust to be the immediate backup at both inside linebacker spots. And he’s flourished in the game’s third phase, bailing the team out and picking them up when other units, like the offense, have struggled.
Whoever performs the best on special teams each week will earn the “stick,” a black and gold painted walking stick courtesy of Danny Smith, and be named captain for the following week. Two goals Matakevich said he’s chasing.
““You gotta take some pride in it,” Matakevich told Mike Prisuta after the Week One victory. “If you’re not trying to get that stick every week, what are we doing?”
After the Minnesota Vikings game, he told the Trib’s Joe Rutter what he saw on the fake punt.
“At the snap of the ball, he didn’t even try to block me. He was just running a route, so you knew something was up.”
It remains to be seen if he Matakevich will ever be a starter on defense in this league, though the Steelers are seemingly very confident in him and his future. But he’s already established himself as a top special teamer on this group. And is being rightfully rewarded.