Archive

ShareThis Page
Steelers’ Stephon Tuitt again does not practice, unlikely to play Sunday | TribLIVE.com
Steelers/NFL

Steelers’ Stephon Tuitt again does not practice, unlikely to play Sunday

Rob Biertempfel
| Thursday, November 15, 2018 4:48 p.m
449294gtrweekinpics12111218
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back James Conner celebrates his touchdown in the firs quarter against the Panthers Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018 at Heinz Field.
449407gtrTuitt101618
The Steelers’ Stephon Tuitt hits Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield during the second half Oct. 28, 2018 at Heinz Field.
449407tuitt2
Getty Images
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 28: Stephon Tuitt #91 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after a defensive stop during the second half in the game against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field on October 28, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Facing the prospect of being without one of his top defensive linemen in going against what has been one of the more formidable in-the-trenches opponents his unit has faced in recent years, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler pondered if the Jacksonville Jaguars perhaps could offer a unique plea.

“‘Hey let’s wait a second; we are going to wait for Stephon (Tuitt) to get healed before we play you guys,’” Butler said.

“But it doesn’t happen like that. I wish it was, but it doesn’t, so we’ve got to go out there and play.”

The Steelers, in all likelihood, will have to face Leonard Fournette and the Jaguars – who gashed them for 395 rushing yards and 75 points in two meetings last season – without one of the league’s better 3-4 ends in Tuitt.

The highest-paid player on the Steelers’ defense this season, Tuitt has not practiced since the Nov. 8 win against Carolina because of an elbow injury.

“It’s just (stinks),” said the player who will replace Tuitt in the starting lineup, Tyson Alualu. “One of our brothers is down.

“But I am definitely ready. And it’s not just me; all the guys have got to rally up.”

The other guys who the Steelers need on their defensive line are Javon Hargrave, Dan McCullers and L.T. Walton in addition to their other stellar starting end, Cameron Heyward.

Hargrave is the No. 1 nose tackle in the base package, but he will play end (in practice, more of a 4-3 tackle) in the Steelers’ subpackages to spell Heyward and/or Tuitt. McCullers is a prototypical nose tackle who is returning to action after he missed last week’s game because of an ankle injury; Walton is in line to be activated for the second consecutive game after he hadn’t played since Week 2.

In recent past seasons, it was rare for Tuitt and Heyward to come off the field, a situation the Steelers sought to address by the signing of Alualu 20 months ago. Under first-year defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, the Steelers have been more liberal in their substitutions at the position.

“It’s kept us fresh, having a rotation,” Heyward said. “Plus, Tyson knows what he’s doing – and Hargrave does as well, and Dan and L.T. – so it’s not like we are throwing someone new in there who hasn’t played before.

“So even without Tuitt, I feel totally confident in the guys we’ve got – so we just have to go out there and dominate.”

The Steelers’ defensive line has been approaching a dominant level in recent weeks, contributing to the team allowing an average of a mere 70.8 rushing yards during the team’s five-game winning streak. Defensive linemen have accounted for 7 ½ sacks and 14 hurries/pressures in that time.

But three of those sacks and seven of those hurries/pressures have come from Tuitt, who’s had 18 tackles and four tackles for loss in that time.

“He means a lot to our defense, there is no doubt,” said Alualu, a nine-year veteran and former No. 10 overall draft pick. “But I think we take pride in that all the guys knowing what’s expected. I think the coaches do a good job of telling us that beforehand.”

Although Jacksonville hasn’t had the success with their rushing offense that they had last season when they led the league at 141.4 yards per game, for six games they have been without 2017 No. 4 overall pick Fournette. It is not a coincidence that the Jaguars lost five of those six.

As a 352-pound run-plugger, McCullers knows he’d be used against the run-happy Jaguars regardless of Tuitt’s status.

“The Jaguars are a downhill running team, so they are going to need more this week,” McCullers said, “and I am ready for it.”

Hey, Steelers Nation, get the latest news about the Pittsburgh Steelers here .

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

Categories: Steelers
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.