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Steelers News: Tuitt has ‘no timetable’ for return, but could be sooner than expected

Just when will Steelers fans see Stephon Tuitt back on the gridiron? Maybe sooner than you think...

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers fans went from holding their collective breath of the Stephon Tuitt injury, to breathing a huge sigh of relief. With the news of his injury not being the season-ending variety, fans now want to know when they can see No. 91 back on the field.

The answer could be a lot sooner than you think. Time to recap the news surrounding the Steelers outside the walls of BTSC.

Defensive end Stephon Tuitt did not put a timetable on his return after injuring his left biceps, but said it will be as soon as the strength returns to his arm “and I can defend myself.”

Tuitt said his arm went numb on the second play of the game in Cleveland when he reached to drop running back Isaiah Crowell for a 9-yard loss.

But an MRI on Monday morning showed Tuitt didn’t have a biceps tear that would require surgery and possibly end his season.

“It was such a relief,” Tuitt said.

Coach Mike Tomlin left open the possibility Tuitt could play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. Tuitt would not say, but he seemed very optimistic.

“We’re going to see throughout the week,” Tuitt said Tuesday night on his weekly radio show on WDVE-FM 102.5. “If I get enough strength in my arm to push back and defend myself, I’ll be ready to get back out there with the pads on. If not I’ll cheer my teammates on.”

Tuitt is not wearing any type of wrap on his arm and said his flexibility is unaffected, waving and rotating his arm to show he had no difficulty. He said it was “shocked” when his arm went numb when he reached to stop Crowell.

Cornerbacks are taught to keep their head on a swivel, but forgive Joe Haden if his is still spinning.

Haden went from spending seven seasons with the Cleveland Browns to opening the season against them Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium, just 12 days after being released.

Now, Haden is preparing to play in his first home opener for the Steelers on Sunday when the Minnesota Vikings visit Heinz Field, where he has been unwelcome.

“That's going to be exciting,” Haden said. “In Pittsburgh, the atmosphere and the fans, every time we come here it's been amazing. Being able to have them cheering for me is going to be sweet.”

Where Haden admits he “didn't really like” seeing Steelers fans waving their Terrible Towels, he's looking forward to hearing “Renegade” for the first time while wearing black and gold.

“That's my favorite part of the games,” Haden said.

Haden already has his first memorable moment as a Steeler, with the 21-18 victory over the Browns marking his first-ever win in a season opener. Afterward, he was awarded the game ball.

“I thought it was sweet, man,” Haden said. “This is a very, very first-class organization, with Coach (Mike) Tomlin and Big Ben. They just knew that I was on the other side of it for so long that they just felt that was something they could look out for me.”

Haden started at left cornerback, opposite Artie Burns, and defensive Cameron Heyward credited Haden's coverage with buying an extra second that helped contribute to the Steelers' seven sacks.

“We just appreciate what he gave us,” Heyward said. “He's always been on the other side, and to finally have him over here is just awesome. I appreciate him as a D-lineman a little bit more than other guys. ... It's going to be huge for us, and we're going to get better from it.”

There were times last season when Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell would not come off the field. He’d play the entire game. He did it against the Bengals late last season and played all but one play in two other games against the Ravens and Giants. If the coaches wanted to give him a breather, he’d wave them off and remain on the field.

Things might be changing this season. Bell’s usage declined in the first game against the Browns, and some of it had nothing to do with easing him back into the game after he missed training camp. For the opener in Cleveland, the Steelers had designed packages without Bell or any other running back on the field.

The Steelers went empty nine times, with four receivers and a tight end. In years past, the coaches wanted Bell on the field because they believed his versatility as a receiver helped the offense. But now it appears they are moving in another direction when they want to play with four receivers.

Bell played just 43 of the team’s 60 offensive snaps Sunday. Rookie receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster took Bell’s place in those packages.

And even though Smith-Schuster didn’t have a catch against the Browns, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger expects more of the same in coming weeks.

“We’ve got a lot of guys we can get on the field,” Roethlisberger said. “We want to be able to get JuJu on the field. That’s what that does. It creates an opportunity to get him on the field to create even more of a mismatch problem. I think you’ll see more of it because it was very good to us.”

Bell said aftrer practice Wednesday that he did not have any discussion with coaches about his usage before the Cleveland game. He said he’d like to play the entire game, or close to it, as he has in the past, but he is deferring to the coaches on their decision-making.

“Of course, I want to be out there every play. I’m just executing the game plan and doing what I’m told,” Bell said.

It's no secret the Steelers have been trying to get younger, faster and more aggressive on defense through the draft and free agency. T.J. Watt represents the fifth consecutive first-round draft pick on a defensive player.

So it makes sense that those players and others who have worked their way into the fold are bringing dynamics to the defense that had been absent in recent seasons.

We take a look at the elements the different players are bringing and how they worked into Keith Butler's game plan Sunday in the 21-18 victory at Cleveland:

Some of the primary aspects of beating Kizer that we talked about were keeping him in the pocket, taking away his primary reads and closing any clear running lanes he could see directly in front of him.

Early in the game, the Steelers showed that was exactly what they came to do. Here’s the first of Anthony Chickillo‘s two sacks in the game, but it wasn’t just his effort that got the job done. The Steelers rushed five players who each had different jobs in creating pressure and containing Kizer.