The Steelers selected Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Some noted he wouldn't see the field much in his rookie season, but he has been playing more with each passing game.
He'll get his first NFL start Monday when the Steelers host the Houston Texans, marking a rare start for a Steelers rookie defensive lineman. With Steve McLendon out with a shoulder injury, Cam Thomas will shift to nose tackle, and Tuitt, in place of veteran Brett Keisel, will start at left defensive end.
Keisel was signed after training camp, likely to bolster the young and new Steelers' defensive line. Heading into camp, McLendon was the team's most experienced lineman, followed by Heyward. Cam Thomas, a free agent acquisition in 2014, was slated to start along with those two. Keisel has seen extensive snaps as a backup and Tuitt increased his play-count as the season went on.
Tuitt has done reasonably well in his opportunities so far and, needless to say, it's a big start for him. We expected Tuitt to play a significant amount of snaps this season (noted in the video above, which can be found here), and it appears, with a solid performance Monday, he'll be on the road to doing just that.
It's needed, too. The Steelers' defensive line has not played well top to bottom so far this season and the team sees a bright future for Tuitt as well as Heyward. A big game against the run-dominant Texans could assure Thomas remains the odd man out when McLendon returns from his injury.