While Pittsburgh Steelers rookie defensive end Stephon Tuitt is expected to make his first career start Monday night against the Houston Texans, it will be interesting to see how they choose to use him when their not using their base 3-4 alignment.
Of the 67 snaps that Tuitt has logged so far this season on defense for the Steelers, only 16 of them have come when the team has had their nickel sub package on the field. During those 16 snaps, 10 of 15 attempted passes were completed by the opposing quarterback.
Due to his inexperience, the Steelers might opt to use defensive ends Brett Keisel and Cameron Heyward on obvious passing downs as the two have combined to register 16 quarterback hurries so far this season, according to Pro Football Focus.
However, during Tuitt’s limited playing time so far this season, he has shown the ability to push the pocket and his efforts in that area even resulted in a sack against the Jacksonville Jaguars back in Week 5.
Overall this season, the Texans have done a good job of protecting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick as he’s only been sacked 10 times through the first six games. Texans right tackle Derek Newton, who Tuitt should see quite a bit of Monday night, hasn’t given up a sack in the 388 snaps he’s played so far this season.
If the Steelers are going to win this game, they’re going to have to put a lot of pressure on Fitzpatrick and some of that pressure will undoubtedly need to come from Tuitt. We’ll see Monday night if he’s afforded the opportunity to get after Fitzpatrick on obvious passing downs when the team puts their nickel package on the field.