Despite a number of standout performances for the Pittsburgh Steelers during the preseason, very little has been seen of Matthew Thomas since he made the opening day roster. Of the 30 snaps the undrafted free agent has seen so far in 2018, all of them have come on special teams. Vince Williams and Jon Bostic have dominated the available time at linebacker, while Morgan Burnett, Terrell Edmunds and Mike Hilton have been the first names off the bench on passing down to replace them.
However, with both Burnett and Hilton potentially sidelined in Week 4, it appears the coaching staff might be considering inserting Thomas into the game against the Ravens. After receiving some reps with the first-team in practice during the week, it looks increasingly likely that fans might see the debut of the former Florida State product on defense this Sunday.
Rookie LB Matthew Thomas confirmed he’s received some first-team reps with the Steelers defense Thursday and Friday. Might still be experimental at this point but coaches have told him to be ready Sunday in case they need him.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) September 28, 2018
Pittsburgh had some success in the preseason with a new “Seminoles package” that featured Thomas in the middle and Williams at outside linebacker, and it is possible the coaching staff intends running this scheme against Baltimore. Given his athleticism and range in coverage, he may also be in the running to see some snaps in the nickel and dime packages with key members of the secondary set to miss the game.
Considering the Steelers’ struggles defending the pass through the first three games, it cannot hurt to try something different. It is hard to imagine Thomas being much worse in coverage against tight ends that the rest of his teammates have proven to be so far this year.
They could certainly use a play like this from him on Sunday night too.