When the Steelers take the field to face the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday they will be doing so without Alex Highsmith and T.J. Watt. In a secondary move to fill out the roster the Steelers called up edge rusher Derrek Tuszka off of the practice squad. With both of the Steelers starting edge players out for the game, the team will look to Melvin Ingram and Jamir Jones to take the bulk of the snaps, but that would leave Tuszka to play the role of primary backup and log some major minutes. So who is Derrek Tuska and what can we expect to see from him on Sunday? Below we will break the player down as best as we can.
“I always feel like I have something to prove.”— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) April 26, 2020
That's the right mentality, Derrek Tuszka. pic.twitter.com/UUgiZvGInP
Tuszka was drafted one pick shy of the Mr. Irrelevant’s spot in the 2020 NFL Draft. Before being drafted he was a member of the North Dakota State Bison team that won four national titles over his five years at the university. In his final season in the FCS subdivision, Tuszka was named a unanimous All-American in the season as he registered 48 tackles including 19 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and five passes defensed. For his efforts Tuszka was also named Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year. In his collegiate career, he started 34 games and appeared in another 53 games and compiled 133 tackles, 42 tackles for loss, 29.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and six passes defensed.
Derrek Tuszka came up with pair of sacks that sealed the Jackrabbits fate pic.twitter.com/SVhTovmblH— VNL Sports (@vnlsports) October 26, 2019
Tuszka started his NFL career as a member of the Denver Broncos, playing a lot of the season on the practice roster. The defensive end appeared in nine games as a rookie —including one against the Pittsburgh Steelers— and picked up six tackles. In 2021, Tuszka again started the year on the Broncos training camp roster, but was again released for purposes of being placed on the practice squad before the Pittsburgh Steelers scooped him up and placed him on their own practice roster. Week 3 against the Bengals will be Tuszka’s first game in the black and gold before he will be reverted back to the practice roster (without having to go through waivers).
Tuszka stands 6’5” tall and currently weighs in at 246 pounds, he is more of a speed rusher type and will make an impact on special teams. He wears a familiar pass rushing number, rocking Bud Dupree’s old number 48. Aside from his number, you will also be able to differentiate Tuszka from his long flowing blond locks out of the back of his helmet.
What do you think? Do you expect anything from the former FCS standout against the Bengals? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.