If not for a torn pectoral muscle suffered early in the team’s Week 6 road game against the Los Angeles Chargers last season, there’s a good chance that Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt would’ve been in the running to be the team’s 2019 defensive MVP.
Instead, Tuitt’s 2019 season ended in the first quarter of that game against the Chargers with him having registered 3.5 sacks, 22 total tackles and 7 total quarterback hits for the year. Tuitt talked about his recovery from his 2019 season-ending injury on Wednesday during a Zoom call with the media.
“Recovery has been well, I got a chance to get my pec back stronger than it was even before,” Tuitt said on Wednesday.
Tuitt had a little trusted guidance in his recovery from his torn pectoral injury, however, as fellow Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward had the same injury late in the 2016 season
“Cam had went through this situation I think within a couple of years ago for me and he has been a great reliable resource for me to be able to talk to and understand from a recovery standpoint on how to handle my injury,” Tuitt said on Wednesday.
Tuitt also indicated on Wednesday that he suffered his injury as a result of a whiplash that occurred when he threw Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers down in the first quarter of that game in Los Angeles.
Additionally, Tuitt went on to say on Wednesday that there was a plan in place for him to possibly return for the playoffs last season had the Steelers ultimately qualified for the postseason. That obviously and unfortunately didn’t happen, however.
2020 is am especially important season for Tuitt and especially with the team losing defensive tackle Javon Hargrave this past offseason via free agency. Tuitt, who still has three years remaining on his current contract, also needs to prove again in 2020 that he can stay healthy an entire season, something he’s failed to do since his 2014 rookie season.
If indeed Tuitt can remain healthy all season, the Steelers defensive front will have a chance at being even better than the unit was last season and that’s something defensive line coach Karl Dunbar sounds like he’s counting on happening when he asked a few days ago about Tuitt and what his return in 2020 would mean to the defense.
“When he’s on the field, you can’t double team everybody,” Dunbar said of Tuitt. “He’s a big human being who can move and he’s trouble to block.”
As for Tuitt, it sounded on Wednesday that’s he’s more than ready to pick up in 2020 where he left off at in 2019.
“I’m excited to be back and put my hand in the pile,” Tuitt said on Tuesday.