The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: Will Stephon Tuitt miss the rest of the season?
A simple question with a simple answer that we should be getting later today, but it is easily the biggest questions in Steeler Nation right now: after leaving yesterday’s game early with a left arm injury, is Stephon Tuitt going to be out for the rest of the year?
We got a report late after yesterday’s game that the team fears the fourth-year defensive end suffered a torn bicep, which, if so, would indeed put him on the shelf for the year, but we will not get confirmation on that until after he gets an MRI today.
A former second-round pick, Tuitt just signed a long-term extension adding five years and an extra $12 million per season on to the final year of his rookie contract the day before the season opener in Cleveland.
Now we may have to wait a year to get another look at him, and frankly he had a strong preseason, and was already off to a good start on just a couple of plays. On the play on which he was injured, he forced the running back out of bounds for a big loss on the second snap of the game.
The Steelers do have some experience playing without a key member of their starting defensive line, as Cameron Heyward missed the majority of the 2016 season following a couple of different injuries. That included missing all of the final 10 games, including the postseason, after suffering a torn pectoral muscle.
At the very least, they should be better-prepared to handle such a blow than they were ago. Presumably Tyson Alualu will step in for Tuitt, and I fully expect him to be up to the task. While this is a blow to the depth of the line, it just means a bigger role for Javon Hargrave and L.T. Walton.