Steelers Could Start Undrafted LB Sunday

Matthew Thomas says he's ready if Vince Williams can't go

Jeff Hathhorn
October 03, 2018 - 11:05 am

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

SOUTH SIDE (93.7 the Fan) - As starting linebacker and team leading tackler Vince Williams tries to get his hamstring ready for Sunday, Steelers could be turning to an undrafted rookie to fill his spot.

Matthew Thomas was a top 15 recruit out of high school, but the linebacker struggled through injuries and a suspension at Florida State that dropped him out of the NFL Draft.  The 6’3”, 232 pound Thomas has two tackles on special teams this year.

“I think about it every day, just the opportunity to come this far,” Thomas said of going undrafted.  “Things didn’t play out the way I wanted it to be, so I have to try and make things work right now in the situation that I’m in.”

Thomas says he’s gained some confidence playing six or seven snaps as the gunner on special teams, he’s also been working against the first team in practice and said those snaps are valuable.  Would head coach Mike Tomlin turn to Thomas over a third year guy in Tyler Matakevich?

“He’s got some talent,” Tomlin said of Thomas.  “He’s learning what to do.  As he gains more knowledge, he’ll be given a chance to participate.”

The Miami native believes he has come a long way since the start of his career in mini-camp.

“There is a big difference, I understand more,” Thomas said.  “I’m not just out there floating around, I know what I’m doing assignment wise and with technique.  I feel comfortable and confident.”

Facing one of the top offenses in the game in Atlanta, Thomas feels he has the speed to keep up with the NFL passing game.

“I’m a fast guy,” said Thomas, who ran a 4.58, 40 at the NFL Combine.  “It’s not like they are going to run past me.  I don’t have to worry about getting beat by a tight end.  I’m pretty confident sticking to my technique and defending them.”

When given extended playing time in the preseason, Thomas led the team with 25 tackles, eight more than Matakevich, who was second.  Thomas also had a sack and a fumble.

“It reassured me that I can play at this level, especially going undrafted, I questioned myself, if I could play or not.  After the preseason and camp, I got my confidence back and I feel good.”

“I definitely feel like I belong.”