- Rookie lessons: For every rookie, their first season in the NFL is a learning experience. They come in accustomed to being a starter in college, and their roles can change. They have to earn everything, prove themselves, just like being a freshman in college all over again.
Tyler Matakevich was no different. Matakevich was the all-time leading tackler at Temple University, was an All-America selection and winner of the Chuck Bednarik Award and Bronko Nargurski Trophy, given to the nation's most outstanding defensive player. But when he came to the Steelers as a seventh-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, he had to earn his spot by making a name for himself on special teams. And he did just that.
"I think I have grown from I used to always be involved, in the moment," said Matakevich. "Now I have found my role on special teams, adjusted to being on the back end of things, listening to the guys around me. These guys have been in the National Football League, they are so knowledgeable, so smart. Just having the opportunity to talk and learn from the veterans, guys like Ryan Shazier, Ryan Shazier, Mike Mitchell, William Gay, and William Gay, it's unbelievable."
Check out the best photos from the 2016 season.
Dishing out advice:** Those veterans that Matakevich learned from, also offered him plenty of advice last year, including helping him to believe in himself.
"Some of the stuff they have told me is you have to trust yourself," said Matakevich. "You are here for a reason. You aren't just here by magic. Your work ethic, everything you have done to this point, keep doing it.
"Just remember you are playing football. You have to be a professional. But, when you think about the game of football, at the end of the day you are playing football. I am playing the same game now that I was playing when I started out at eight-years old."
- Hello, goodbye: Another thing Matakevich learned his rookie year was to expect the unexpected. In college, he was accustomed to the roster remaining the same during a season. But in the NFL, the one constant is change.
"The big thing is on any given day you see new faces here," said Matakevich. "To me that was the biggest thing. You have to come here and work every single day. Anything can happen at any minute."