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Brett Keisel's chances of returning to the Steelers sunk a little bit Saturday

Stephon Tuitt, the rookie, was believed to be under watchful eyes in order to determine the viability of taking the team's starting left defensive end position. After Saturday, Cam Thomas may have given the team another angle.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

The general thought was the Steelers would use training camp and the first preseason game or two to give rookie defensive end Stephon Tuitt a thorough workout and see if he can perform well enough to play a significant amount of snaps this year.

If he can, veteran Brett Keisel wouldn't be needed.

Tuitt played quite a bit, but based on Saturday's preseason loss to the Giants, the question may have shifted to a different focus.

Cam Thomas may have played well enough to justify the lack of Keisel on the roster.

Filling in for injured nose tackle Steve McLendon, Thomas played nose tackle and shifted to defensive end later in the game, logging a considerable amount of snaps. And outside the defensive gaffe that led to a 73-yard touchdown run by Giants RB Rashad Jennings, the line played well overall.

Credit Thomas with at least some of that.

After one game, the Steelers have reason to be optimistic about Thomas as a utility lineman, capable of taking snaps both at nose tackle and end. That would allow the Steelers a back-up plan for Tuitt, as well as the ability to use both players on a rotation basis.

And it would free up a roster spot they might otherwise have used on Keisel.

There's still a week of camp to go, including the dual practices with the incoming Buffalo Bills - Pittsburgh's opponent Aug. 16 at Heinz Field. In that, the Steelers can get a bit more of a look at both Thomas and Tuitt, but Thomas's stock has to have grown a bit after his performance Saturday.