The loss of Ryan Shazier can still be felt to this day. You can hear it when players talk about the teammate he was, the player he was and the overall person he was. He was more than just an All-Pro, he was a leader.
Nonetheless, the Pittsburgh Steelers now have to find a way to get their defense acclimated to life without Shazier. With an entire offseason to do so, they certainly should be more prepared than in the aftermath of the Monday night game vs. the Bengals, when Shazier left the field on a stretcher.
A theme among many linebackers throughout Organized Team Activities has been, “They aren’t respecting us, but we’re good enough.”
This from Tyler Matakevich, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN:
“They don’t give the rest of our inside linebackers credit,” said Matakevich. “I think Vinny [Williams] is a tremendous player. He’s smart. We just brought (Jon) Bostic in. He’s played four years. He knows what’s going on. L.J. Fort’s been here for a long time. He knows this system. I think we have the guys who are capable of doing it.”
This comes on the heels of Vince Williams also saying, although they don’t have Shazier, they’re still very capable.
“We don’t have another Ryan Shazier on our team,” Williams said. “But we do have very capable, starter-ready middle linebackers.”
So, what is the key for the Steelers to repair the broken interior of their defense this offseason? According to Matakevich it’s all about staying focused.
“You just can’t miss a step -- really on your p’s and q’s,” Matakevich said. “Pay attention, study, know what’s going to happen before it happens.”
This was one of Shazier’s strengths as an inside linebacker, but it begs the question: Is this ILB group good enough? Give us your take in the comment section below, and be sure to check out the rest of the news from Day 4 of OTAs below:
Second-year quarterback Josh Dobbs (No. 5) has looked confident throwing the ball this offseason. Dobbs is one of three quarterbacks - including Landry Jones and rookie Mason Rudolph - vying for the two roster spots behind Ben Roethlisberger. pic.twitter.com/odxy7P5m8v— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) May 29, 2018
Missi and Bob take you onto the field at Day 4 of OTAs to talk attendance, the WR group and more. pic.twitter.com/3jQLtNPUTr— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 29, 2018
Vance McDonald talks about making the most of his opportunities, chemistry with Ben, the TE group and more. pic.twitter.com/iKj1avmawh— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 29, 2018
Watch the Steelers defense get back after it at OTAs this morning:https://t.co/webSWSRpvf— Jacob Klinger (@Jacob_Klinger_) May 29, 2018