The horrific injury suffered by Steelers inside linebacker Ryan Shazier at the end of the 2017 season created a void that’s been largely unfilled as the team enters 2018.
The team signed free agent Jon Bostic from the Indianapolis Colts and reserves L.J. Fort and Tyler Matakevich have returned, but the position that almost everyone thought they’d address in the draft looks fairly similar to the way it did a year ago.
Also returning in 2018 is former Pitt linebacker Matt Galambos. Galambos wasn’t an option for the team in 2017 when Shazier went down, because he had reached an injury release settlement with the team after a Week 4 practice ailment shut him down for the year.
But the Steelers re-signed Galambos to a futures contract, giving him an opportunity to become an option for the team in 2018.
“The opportunity is just being here to start every day this offseason,” Galambos said before the team’s first minicamp session on Tuesday. “I think any time, whatever your line of work is, you’re in your second year or doing it all over again, I think it’s definitely more comfortable. It is definitely here. It’s a great staff, great group of guys.”
Galambos has plenty of competition for playing time. In addition to the four entrenched ahead of him at inside linebacker, Keith Kelsey, who replaced Galambos on the practice squad after he was injured last season, has also returned.
“You can’t worry about that,” Galambos said. “I just think you have to worry about you can do. Try not to compare yourself to anyone else. If you can do your best each day, that’s all you can hope for.”
In the meantime, Galambos has tried to prove himself throughout OTAs, which ended earlier this month. The tough part for a linebacker is that OTA’s are non-contact, so it’s not as if he can impress coaches with a big hit or a forced fumble.
“If you get out there, don’t have any mistakes mentally,” he said. “Know what you’re doing and what everybody else is doing and just kind of go from there. Once you get into camp, it’s more physical, but this is good right now kind of getting things down so when you get into camp, it’s all kind of a reminder.”
Galambos has had to adjust to a whole new scheme with the Steelers, which play a base 3-4 defense compared to the 4-3 he played at Pitt. He said he likes the new scheme, though he does miss playing the true middle linebacker. While he felt comfortable in the scheme last year, it’s been good to get back out there in it this summer after missing the final 13 weeks of the season.
“It’s never really good to be thinking when you’re on the field,” he said. “Any time you can refresh and have the whole scheme again, you definitely feel more comfortable. The more reps you get, whether it’s OTAs, minicamp, training camp, at any position, you’re definitely going to become more and more comfortable, especially with the guys next to you, as well.”
When the time comes, Galambos hopes that he’s able to show the Steelers coaching staff the same things he was able to do at Pitt: be a consistent presence. Galambos was Pitt’s leading tackler as a senior and while was never the most athletic player at his position, became a favorite of the coaching staff for his dependability, intelligence and hard work.
“I like just going out there every day and trying to be consistent with whatever it is, physically, mentally, just knowing what I’m doing and trying to be in the right spot,” he said. “I don’t really say too much, so just try to be as consistent as possible.”