Arguably the best player on the field on either side of the ball last night was Stephon Tuitt for the Pittsburgh Steelers, which for many will be greeted as a welcomed and long-awaited sign. The 2014 second-round pick is among the highest-paid players on the entire roster, but he hasn’t quite put up the statistical production to match it.
Tuitt did produce the second-best sack total of his career last season with five and a half, but that only placed third among defensive linemen, and was tied for fourth with Bud Dupree on the defense. In five seasons, in 70 games, he has recorded 180 tackles with 20 sacks, four forced fumbles, an interception, and 10 passes defensed.
And by appearances, he is primed to have the breakout season that has been teased for the past couple of years. He posted two sacks last night, including a safety, which made up a bit for an illegal hands to the face penalty that he had earlier on in the contest.
”We’re expecting big things from him”, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said of the sixth-year defensive lineman following last night’s victory. “He’s expecting big things from him. He’s had a good preseason, both in-stadium and out. That was not unlike what we’ve been looking at from him”.
Tuitt is the second defensive starter in as many contests to post a multiple-sack game, as Dupree also recorded two in the second preseason game. Backup rookie inside linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III did have a sack and a half in the first game.
Defensively, the Steelers had seven sacks on the night, including Tuitt’s two. Running back Cameron Heyward also got in on the action with a sack, while Tuzar Skipper got his third in as many games. Inside linebackers Vince Williams, Robert Spillane, and Tegray Scales all came up with one of their own as well, but Skipper’s was the only one to jar the ball loose, recovered by Tyson Alualu.
While the two sacks were Tuitt’s only official statistics on the night, it goes without saying that his influence on the game goes beyond whether or not his receives credit for finishing a specific play. He was having success against the Tennessee Titans’ interior offensive line throughout the night.
It’s the same old story, but if he can stay healthy in 2019, there is no reason that Tuitt cannot be every bit as successful as Heyward, as he is the 30-year-old’s equal with respect to sheer talent and physical gifts. And he’s still only 26 years old.