Coming out of Sunday’s game, or even Thursday’s practice, Friday’s practice report presented perhaps the best-case scenario for the Pittsburgh Steelers as far as their defensive line is concerned. With one defensive lineman already on injured reserve, they had three more banged up. While one, Tyson Alualu, was ruled out for the game, two cleared the week free of an injury designation.
Still, with Alualu sidelined, Chris Wormley unavailable, and Cameron Heyward and Isaiah Buggs obviously dealing with some bumps and bruises, it’s highly likely that we see some contributions from some less common faces—Buggs being included in that, but also Henry Mondeaux in his third game, and possibly even rookie Carlos Davis, who has yet to dress for a game.
And if they are indeed called upon to participate against the Dallas Cowboys, you know what the expectations for them will be. “It’s always ‘next man up’ preached here”, Stephon Tuitt told reporters yesterday, via audio provided by the team’s media department.
“I think every player’s had an opportunity to say that when they get a chance to talk to you guys. Coach Tomlin really emphasizes that. So I really have nothing but the utmost confidence that these guys are gonna get in there and do their job”.
Buggs, a 2019 sixth-round pick, has spent every game of his career on the 53-man roster, but he has spent some time as a healthy scratch, including, for the only time this season, the game before last, when Mondeaux, fresh up from the practice squad for the first time in his career, dressed over him. He jumped offside on 3rd and 1. Talk about jitters.
“It is gonna be a little bit of nerves, it’s the first games for a couple of these guys”, Tuitt acknowledged. “Just getting them to remember to calm down, pay attention to the keys, and to continue to get them that veteran talk throughout the game and make sure they keep focused and keep their head in the game”.
This will be Mondeaux’s third game by now, however, and he did look to have settled down some, though he wasn’t asked to play a lot. Buggs has dressed for 16 games over a year and a half, so this is not new to him. But it would be for Davis.
That’s where the veterans come in, Tuitt feels, reminding the young players to “not make this more than they came here to get drafted to do, and that’s to play football”. All you have to do is come in and do what you’ve been doing for most of your life—only now the stakes are as high as possible, and the financial future of your entire family potentially hangs in the balance based on your performance. No pressure.