The Pittsburgh Steelers made the unusual decision to keep eight defensive linemen on their initial 53 man roster Tuesday. And we have one explanation as to why. Which at this point, shouldn’t come as a major surprise. According to the PPG’s Gerry Dulac, the team is considering place Stephon Tuitt on IR. If they do, he’ll miss at least the first three weeks of the regular season.
Steelers considering putting Stephon Tuitt (knee) on injured reserve to start the season, which is why they kept 8 defensive linemen, one more than usual. Tuitt has not practiced this year.
— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) September 1, 2021
As Dulac’s tweet notes, Tuitt has yet to practice this year. While teammates and coaches have downplayed his absence and stated he’ll be ready for Week 1, even if he was, he clearly won’t have the conditioning to play his usual amount of snaps. Last week, Dulac reported Tuitt was dealing with an undisclosed injury. In his tweet, Dulac refers to it as a knee injury. Tuitt is also grieving the loss of his brother who was killed in a hit-and-run in the offseason, though that no longer appears to be the driving reason as to why he’s missed so much time.
Tuitt broke out last season, staying healthy and recording a career-high 11 sacks across 15 games.
Pittsburgh made no tough cuts along the D-line Tuesday. They kept all their backups including Isaiahh Loudermilk, Isaiah Buggs, Carlos Davis, and Henry Mondeaux. Keeping seven defensive linemen is considered heavy. Keeping eight is almost unheard of. But if Tuitt is out the first three weeks, the team will be back down to seven and the decision to initially keep eight will make more sense. Tuitt had to be carried on the initial 53 in order to be a “return” player off IR once the season began.
Should Tuitt land on IR, it would obviously open up an additional roster spot for potentially an offensive linemen or defensive back.