Monday night will be a night that Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Stephon Tuitt will never forget, as according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the team’s second-round draft pick will make his first career start against the Houston Texans at Heinz Field.
Tuitt, according to Dulac, will be the first Steelers defensive end to start a regular season game since 2001 when Rodney Bailey started at right defensive end in the Week 3 game against the Buffalo Bills. The Steelers won that game 20-3 and only allowed 172 total net yards in the process. As for Bailey, he registered his first career sack along with three tackles in the win.
“It’s going to be fast for him,” said fellow Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward, according to Dulac. “It’s not going to be like practice. There is going to be a higher level of intensity, and we need him to produce now. If you’re going to play the snaps you wanted, then you have to take advantage of this. We’re not going to scale down for him, so he has to be ready from the get-go.”
Tuitt and the rest of the Steelers defense will face a Texans offense Monday night that figures to run a lot of outside zone against them. That particular running scheme has given the Steelers defense fits so far this season and hopefully Tuitt’s extended presence in the game can help change that.
According to our charting, Tuitt has been on the field for 30 running plays so far this season and the defense only allowed 2.5 yards per carry on those plays. While it’s a small sample size, it’s encouraging none the less.
Assuming Tuitt plays well Monday night, he more than likely be the starter moving forward. Up until now, newcomer Cam Thomas has been the starter on the left side and he hasn’t played well at all. Thomas, however, is slated to start at nose tackle Monday night with starter Steve McLendon currently sidelined with a right shoulder sprain, so that will be a concern.
During his Thursday talk with the media, Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau proclaimed that Tuitt is going to be a good player for the Steelers and that we all can write that down. So far, the Notre Dame product has shown signs of becoming just that in his limited playing time and the Steelers will need that upward track to continue Monday night if they want to write down another win on their schedule.