clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Can Stephon Tuitt morph into the ultimate Man of Steel?

The Steelers need Stephon Tuitt to rebound after a season riddled with injuries in 2018.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As the Steelers get ready to prepare for their first full season without Ryan Shazier, everybody knows the expectations. They will be without the dynamic playmaking ability of No. 50. As the leading tackler prior to his devastating spinal injury, Shazier helped set the tone for his team

Many wonder if the defense will elevate to championship form, or whether they’ll take a step back. Stephon Tuitt has been an anchor on the defensive line, and this season he’s feeling the expectations. A year ago, he signed a five-year $60 million dollar contract. His injury-riddled, 2017 season began during the season opener against the Browns when he injured his bicep. Then, in the middle of October, he sustained a lower-lumbar sprain and, finally, a more recent elbow injury heading into the Divisional Round playoff loss to the Jaguars. He managed to get three tackles in the game, but he was never truly healthy. Now, the expectations are much higher as he looks to be a key contributor in turning things around for the defense.

Interestingly, Tuitt has a huge appreciation for superheroes, especially one of his favorites from the Avengers. “I feel more like Thanos (the movie’s villain). He’s a superhero to me,” said Tuitt. He claims that his arm is now fully healed from a year ago. He was only available for 12 games last season.

His career average in tackles per game has been more than 3.5. He seemed to set the bar high last year by aiming for double-digit sacks in his career while playing in only 11 more games, but instead he produced 25 tackles and three sacks. “To be honest, I’m not upset about it. I’m not sad about it anymore because it made me a better man and made me a better football player.” His torn biceps limited his ability as he struggled to push and pull.

Despite Tuitt’s absence during the season, the pass rush was able to produce a franchise-high mark of 56 sacks. Only Tuitt knows deep down inside what he can contribute. His mindset going into 2018 (his fifth season) to be a revenge tour. “He wants to prove not only to everyone else, but himself,” said Defensive End, Cam Heyward. “He wants to be a guy that guys play for and to have a great season - and we expect that out of him.”

“Expectation” is definitely the key word going into this year — not just for Stephon Tuitt, but for the entire defensive unit to capitalize on their championship window! I’ve got to believe that if Tuitt can be at full strength this year, he’ll have an impact in the tackling department. The Steelers ranked 30th in that category, which was the lowest since 2014 when they finished 26th. If there’s one person who can restore order to the defensive front, it’s got to be Stephon Tuitt because, as we all know, Cam Heyward can’t do it all on his own!