Characteristically quietly, Matt Feiler has filled Steelers right tackle job with aplomb
Remember the four-way offseason competition to succeed nine-year pro Marcus Gilbert as the Pittsburgh Steelers starting right tackle?
Hardly anyone else does, either. And that’s because Matt Feiler, characteristic of his personality, quietly earned the job and has performed admirably since.
“He really is playing well,” said the All-Pro who lines up next to him, Steelers right guard David DeCastro. “He’s come in and filled in very well for us last year, and this year, it’s just kind of picked up where he left off. There’s been no drop-off at all. He keeps getting better, and I really enjoying playing with him.”
Known to his teammates as “Anchor,” Feiler has anchored one side of an offensive line that has allowed five sacks in five games. Pro Football Focus rates Feiler as the NFL’s sixth-best offensive tackle this season, its fourth-best right tackle, its fourth-best at pass blocking and its best at blocking while on a screen.
Not bad for a player whose scouting report was he was a bull of a run-blocker but perhaps didn’t have the feet for NFL-quality protection.
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So far in 2019 he has allowed a sack, a hit and five hurries on 201 pass-blocking snaps, and hasn’t allowed a single pressure over the past two weeks. pic.twitter.com/oBRi5lpBnU
— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) October 10, 2019
“I’ve focused a lot on trying to get better at both (pass and run blocking),” Feiler said, “and I feel like I’ve taken a big step in that direction. But there’s still plenty of work to be done. There always will be.”
Although he first entered the league in 2014 as an undrafted free agent out of Division II Bloomsburg, Feiler officially hit the one-season mark for NFL experience. Last week’s game was his 16th start in the NFL — the equivalent of a full season.
It’s been almost a year since he took over for an injured (and since-traded) Gilbert. Feiler purportedly held off Zach Banner, Jerald Hawkins and Chuks Okorafor to keep the job this season. But in reality, Feiler took first-team reps from the beginning. The only time he didn’t (barring rest) was when the Steelers repped him at other positions — his standing as the first-team right guard was so secure they didn’t even need an extended look at him there.
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So, Feiler has become an accepted member among an exclusive club of long-time veterans for the Steelers on the offensive line in DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Alejandro Villanueva and Maurkice Pouncey.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve been accepted now. I feel like I have always been (accepted) and a part of it here,” Feiler said. “No matter how small the role is. But I haven’t really stopped to think about (being a regular starter). There’s a lot of things to focus on other than that, and try to be as unselfish as I can and just do what I can to help out.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .