With starting defensive end Stephon Tuitt currently dealing with a knee sprain, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked Tuesday during his press conference if Daniel McCullers would start at nose tackle on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs so that Steve McLendon can start at left defensive end should Tuitt wind up being ruled out. Tomlin’s answer wasn’t very surprising at all and especially since he normally hates dealing with hypothetical questions.
“All of the remaining guys, whether it’s Dan McCullers, or Cam Thomas, or L.T. Walton are position flexible,” said Tomlin. “So, it will probably be a combination of all of the guys that you and I just mentioned in terms of working to minimize the loss of a guy like Tuitt.”
Cam Thomas would be the most logical player to start at left defensive end against the Chiefs should Tuitt be unable to play. For what it’s worth, Thomas, who is in the final year of his contract with the Steelers, hasn’t been awful in the 87 snaps that he’s played so far this season. Not awful this year is a giant improvement over his play from last year. Rookie L.T. Walton has already logged 22 defensive snaps in the four games that he’s dressed for. Like Thomas, he hasn’t been awful.
The interesting thing with McCullers is that he hasn’t played a single snap in the last two games even though he managed to dress for both of them. His last defensive snap came way back in Week 2 and that was the game that he injured his left knee in. While McCullers is expected to dress again on Sunday against the Chiefs, he shouldn’t be expected to play much even if Tuitt can’t go.
While most of this discussion revolves around Tuitt, there’s still a good chance that he plays on Sunday if he can practice fully by the end of the week. Tomlin sounded optimistic about his status on Tuesday for whatever that’s worth.
“We’ll leave the light on for Stephon,” said Tomlin. “He’s a young guy, he was walking pretty good yesterday, so we’ll see his overall availability from a practice standpoint and obviously, if he’s able to protect himself and he’s able to be productive, we’ll give him an opportunity.”