Steelers teammates confident in Sunday starting right tackle Matt Feiler
Maurkice Pouncey has seen the likes of former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line mates Chris Hubbard and Kelvin Beachum leave and earn big money with other teams because there wasn’t an opening on the Steelers’ longtime starting unit.
Friday, he made a prediction about who the next longtime backup who makes the bigtime will be.
“I can tell you about (Matt Feiler) right now,” Pouncey said, “if he’s not with us (longterm) he will get paid very well somewhere.
“We love Matt – he’s been here a while now. We’ve just got very lucky for him to be one of our guys we keep around. Because he should be a starter in this league.”
Sunday at Heinz Field, for at least one game Feiler will be a starter.
Feiler confirmed he’s taken first-team reps at right tackle all week while Marcus Gilbert was absent because of a knee injury. Gilbert was ruled as “out” on the Steelers’ official injury report, meaning Feiler will make his third NFL start in the game against the Cleveland Browns.
“It’s something that I’ve got to stay ready for,” Feiler said of his 2018 role as the top backup at tackle. “It keeps me on my toes.”
Feiler joined the organization just before the 2015 season opener, a waiver claim from the Houston Texans. He spent that and the following season on the practice squad and last season on the 53-man roster. He started last season’s finale while many veterans rested in a meaningless game against the Browns.
But that was at guard, a spot he spent more practice time at over his three years with the organization. This season, he’s gone back more to his tackle roots. And his start this season – Sept. 24 at Tampa Bay – was at right tackle, also in place of Gilbert.
“The earlier experience just helps you get more time learning technique things and knowing what you did wrong and gives you more time to perfect those techniques areas that you have,” said Feiler, an undrafted free agent in 2014 from Division II Bloomsburg. “So it’s just a lot more film work and work out on the field.”
Listed at 330 pounds and with a broad frame, teammates have given the quiet Feiler the nickname of “Anchor.” He and fellow backup B.J. Finney (starting in place of right guard David DeCastro) helped the Steelers’ offense to a 413-yard performance.
Like that week, Feiler also took first-team reps in practice leading up to that effort – unlike when for his NFL debut on offense last season, Feiler went in “cold” at right tackle in the fourth quarter of a game against Detroit.
“You get more reps with the guys you are going to be playing next to, so it helps in that aspect,” Feiler said.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at [email protected] or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.