Steelers 2-a-days: Can rookie safety P.J. Locke make team? Tyler Matakevich in contract year | TribLIVE.com
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Steelers 2-a-days: Can rookie safety P.J. Locke make team? Tyler Matakevich in contract year

Chris Adamski
1371112_web1_AP_18255651514821
Associated Press
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Tyler Matakevich plays against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 9, 2018, in Cleveland.

Editor’s note: From now until the first practice of training camp at Saint Vincent, the Trib will be running through the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 90-man roster, assessing each player’s outlook for the 2019 season. The breakdown will go through the roster in mostly alphabetical order, (at least) two per day, between June 14 and July 26.

S P.J. LOCKE

Experience: Rookie

Contract status: $495,000 cap hit in 2019, under team control for four seasons

2019 outlook: The Steelers ignored safety in the draft and even in the signings they announced immediately after the draft. That was curious because one of their starters (Sean Davis) is eligible to be a free agent at season’s end, and there isn’t much experienced depth at safety for the Steelers. Enter Locke, who signed two days after the draft ended after starting 31 games over four seasons at Texas. He’s an intriguing prospect based on that pedigree and that he’s fast (a reported 4.38 in the 40), has some size (202 pounds) and a reputation for laying some thump with his tackles despite a background at cornerback. If he can play special teams, he’s a training-camp sleeper.

ILB TYLER MATAKEVICH

Experience: 4th season

Contract status: $735,764 cap hit in 2019, after which will be an unrestricted free agent

2019 outlook: A college standout undersized for the NFL, Matakevich is a coaches’ favorite and special-teams contributor who never has been given a true run at playing linebacker in the NFL. The Steelers have repeatedly brought in outside help in lieu of promoting Matakevich. Still, there’s nothing wrong with carving out a career over several years as an NFL special-teams player and backup linebacker. With the drafting of Devin Bush and the signing of Mark Barron to go with returnee Vince Williams at inside linebacker, Matakevich’s role remains the same in 2019. If he continues to do it well, though, he’ll have little trouble finding work in 2020 and beyond.

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Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Steelers
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