Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: DE Stephon Tuitt
Stock Value: Down
A little obvious here, but it’s the topic of the day. The Steelers lost Stephon Tuitt for the season to a torn pectoral muscle that he suffered in Sunday’s victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. He was one of several starters who left the game due to injury. At this point, one can only hope that his was the only one that was significant, but we’ll learn more from Mike Tomlin in a bit.
Tuitt was playing the best football of his career through the first five-plus weeks of the 2019 season leading up to his injury, which he likely sustained while putting pressure on Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, fittingly enough. A couple of years ago, he suffered a bicep injury on the second play of the season while also in position to make a play.
The sixth-year veteran hasn’t had very good luck on the injury front during his career, even going back to college, but this was the first season-ender. The bicep injury he suffered a couple of years ago was also significant, but it was one that he was able to play through. This one doesn’t really give you that sort of option, as it needs to be surgically repaired.
But boy, will he be missed. Nobody on the defense was as capable as he on any given play of just creating chaos. It was just a couple week ago that he had his way with All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda of the Baltimore Ravens. I don’t think Tyson Alualu will be doing that.
He entered Sunday’s game sharing the team lead with three and a half sacks, and also had about a half dozen or so hits on the quarterback, and numerous tackles for loss. Such numbers show that he was almost as much a fixture on opposing backfields as were the running backs themselves.
If there is any silver lining, it is that this injury will force the coaching staff to play Javon Hargrave more. The fourth-year defensive tackle is likely in his final season in Pittsburgh, as he is sure to be head-hunted by needy 4-3 teams who can afford to pay him a lot more than a defense employing a 3-4 front, and two high-paid defensive ends who kick inside during sub-packages.