Steelers go deeper onto their bench than usual on defense in loss to Chiefs
In recent seasons when each is healthy, defensive ends Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward have typically played 80-90 percent of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive snaps. At outside linebacker, coaches have settled on Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt as their go-to guys for virtually every play over the past year.
Not Sunday. In the home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, Heyward and Tuitt spent much more time than usual on the sidelines – at times, at the same time. Also, Anthony Chickillo regularly subbed in for Dupree or Watt.
“It was just a hotter game,” Watt explained.
The gametime temperature was 80 degrees.
“It was hotter, so it was just trying to stay fresh. (Plus) we played 90 plays last week (in an overtime tie at Cleveland), so just trying to stay fresh.”
Filling in for Heyward and Tuitt were L.T. Walton (a deactive against the Browns), Dan McCullers (who played just 13 snaps all of last season) and Javon Hargrave (a nose tackle by trade).
Chickillo is the only other outside linebacker on the roster after Dupree and Watt.
“We were trying to keep people fresh for the whole year,” Heyward said. “And we have trust in everybody. If they are out there, we’ve got to play well. It doesn’t matter who is in there.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at [email protected] or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.