It’s no surprise that Stephon Tuitt has been a story this week. After all, he is coming off one of the best games of his career, during which he recorded two sacks, nine tackles, and three tackles for loss. Through seven games, he now has six sacks on the season, which is just half a sack behind his previous career-high mark set in 2015.
On top of that, he was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week, an award that he received just once before, back in 2016. Given the way he started out the 2019 season, however, it seems likely that he stood a good chance of winning it at some point last year, had he stayed healthy.
After getting off to a great start last season, which included registering 3.5 sacks in the first five games, Tuitt suffered a torn pectoral muscle early in the sixth game, which put him on the shelf for the rest of the year. His return in 2020 was eagerly anticipated, and he has done everything in his power to ensure that the anticipation was justified—while choosing not to dwell on his history of injuries.
“Last year was my biggest injury that I ever had. I think for any player, especially when a muscle rips off, that’s just, that’s a big injury”, he told reporters yesterday in speaking with the media, from audio provided by the team’s media department. “Like I said, it’s part of the game. It’s something that you can’t control”.
“You just make sure that you go back out there and you play the same way you played before, and you train to make sure you come back better than you were before” he continued. “I’m really glad to be healthy now. I’ve been doing everything that you could possibly do off the field and on the field to make sure I’m ready, week in and week out. But I’m still gonna continue to play how I play. I can’t control anything else after that”.
Even amid an unusual offseason due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Tuitt did not allow anything to slow down either his physical rehabilitation or his general training. He reported to training camp in great shape and ready to work, as though he were good as new.
According to Pro Football Focus, only Aaron Donald among interior defensive linemen has registered more quarterback pressures on the season so far than he has. And the Los Angeles Rams have already played in eight games.
It’s a really wonderful thing to be able to discuss Tuitt this year without throwing the word ‘potential’ out there. We have been waiting for him to have the opportunity to fully capitalize on his potential for years, and we are finally seeing the full ‘do it’ that Tuitt has to offer in 2020. And it’s been a big part of the Steelers’ both defensive and general success this season.