2019 South Side Questions: How Big A Blow Is The Loss Of Stephon Tuitt?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.

The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.

How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? Who is sitting out due to injury?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: How big of a blow is it for the Steelers to lose Stephon Tuitt for the season?

Stephon Tuitt’s injury misfortunes during his playing career have been numerous. In fact, injuries were the only reason he wasn’t a first-round pick back in 2014, and when he’s been healthy for the Steelers, he very much has played as though he is.

But injuries have factored into every one of his seasons in which he was a full-time starter, with 2019 proving to be the most severe to date. It was confirmed yesterday that he suffered a torn pectoral muscle on Sunday in the team’s victory over the Los Angeles Chargers and will miss the rest of the season.

Many have observed that Tuitt was playing perhaps the best of his entire career through the first five games of the season, and he was off to another fine start on Sunday before suffering the injury. Now with him sidelined, the Steelers will have to turn to Tyson Alualu.

Alualu is a good player, but is a much better run defender than pass rusher, so they are definitely going to lose something in that department. But they have been strong all around in that phase of the game, so perhaps they can withstand the blow.

There’s also the byproduct of Javon Hargrave getting more playing time, and rookie Isaiah Buggs, who can rush, will finally be active. These factors can help offset Tuitt’s absence, but their depth is going to be tested, as will the endurance of their starters, who will have to log a heavier workload now, especially Cameron Heyward, whom they won’t be able to afford to take off the field.

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