They call them the unsung heroes.
They are the men in the trenches, and it has been a steadfast mantra of the Pittsburgh Steelers since the days of Mike Webster.
“Always in the trenches, never in the limelight,” as the old soccer adage goes, and it’s a feeling that fits current Steeler and former Lampeter Strasburg star Matt Feiler well.
In his fifth season on the team, 27-year-old Feiler, once a Bloomsburg free agent practice player, has started 39 games in many roles, including the Left Guard this year.
“I’m never really happy with what is happening to my game. I always try to get better and work harder, ”said Feiler last week. “It’s hard to be in the trenches, it was a challenge. I’m glad the Steelers saw my potential. I just keep working on perfecting my craft. “
Pittsburgh currently lead AFC North 10-1 and a big reason for that was Ben Roethlisberger and the passing game. This means that pass protection from the men in the trenches becomes even more critical.
So far, the Steelers unit has been one of the best in the league, not allowing a sack in more than 225 snaps.
“We work running and passing all the time,” said Feiler. “So it’s not really difficult to adapt to the pass from the run, it just burdens us a little more in certain situations during the games. But we fit together well as a group. “
This O-Line group is one of the biggest things he attributes his success on the team to, especially after playing multiple positions like him. He also says having Hall of Famer Mike Munchak early in his coaching career was huge.
“Being with the great players in the room like (Maurkice) Pouncey, Dave (DeCastro) and Al (Villanueva) and learning about situations and then having a guy like Mike Munchak when I got here really got me going helped your game. ” Said Feiler. “The kind of attention he paid to each position and his knowledge of the game affected you.”
This season, despite the Steelers now taking first place in the AFC playoff picture, Feiler says they don’t talk about it much.
“The coaches keep saying it’s one game at a time and we’re just focusing on that,” said Feiler.
Speaking of focus, another LS product, Matt Wright, received national attention last Monday night when he took over the Steelers’ kicking duties for the injured Chris Boswell.
Wright, who was inducted into the practice group on November 30 and activated on December 7, combined in his only field goal attempt of the night (37 yards) and was perfect on two extra point attempts in a 23:17 loss to Washington.
“I got the call and was quarantined for a while. Then I realized I was going to kick right before the game,” Wright said last week. “I wasn’t better informed than the media and only took it day in and day out in case it happened.”
Having Wright on the roster gave the Steelers two ex-LS coach John Manion players on the active roster – which says a lot about the Pioneers program.
Most high schools with more than one player on the same NFL roster are national powerhouses like St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) or Dematha (Hyattsville, Maryland).
“It’s such a small high school, not really a production powerhouse for big Division I people,” Wright said of LS. “It’s great for both of us to land up here and Coach Manion is happy because he’s a die-hard Steeler fan.”
Despite a quick appeal – Wright was working as a systems engineer for Lockheed-Martin at the time – the UCF record holder of career goals and points was no stranger to the Steelers. He fought well with Boswell for his place at the training camp last season.
Although he said it was a surreal feeling to be on the pitch in a live game situation, he was also confident knowing the center and the owner.
“I think what helped was the comfort I had stepped hundreds of times with Jordan (Berry) and Cam (Cannaday),” Wright said. “When I got through that first week of practice, my level of comfort increased, and even during the warm-up, to get those two back on track.”
Boswell returned to practice Thursday, but Wright continued to take snaps and no decision was made as to what will happen against Buffalo tonight. It all depends on Boswell’s hip.
“I’m not sure how much this week will be different from last,” Wright said. “When Bos is back and healthy he will take anything and I’ll take whatever I’m told to kick.”
Even though Wright has no chance of kicking for Pittsburgh again this season, he now has something on his résumé that many who have played in the NFL for years didn’t: he scored points – five to be precise.
That’s just seven fewer than another Lancaster County gamer who’s eight years in the Steelers franchise, Dan Kreider.
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