It’s been an incredibly difficult, sad offseason for Pittsburgh Steelers’ star defensive end Stephon Tuitt.
The veteran defensive end’s brother, Richard Bartlett, was tragically killed in a hit-and-run incident in Georgia, keeping Tuitt out of all offseason work for the Steelers. Now, according to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette insider Gerry Dulac, Tuitt is dealing with an “undisclosed” injury that has kept him out of training camp and the preseason, ending any sort of speculation as to what’s going on with Tuitt, who has remained a topic of discussion in recent weeks as the start of the 2021 regular season draws near.
“The Steelers are being respectful of what Tuitt has been going through after his younger brother, Richard Bartlett, was killed in a hit-and-run accident in June,” Dulac writes. “However, he has been held out of practice mostly because he is dealing with an undisclosed injury that could continue to bother him for a while.”
It remains unclear what the injury is, as Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin has not revealed the nature or the timeline of the reported injury with Tuitt, citing the league’s policy that injuries do not have to be revealed during the preseason.
Previously, when asked if his defensive end bookend would be ready for Week 1, Cameron Heyward revealed a small nugget that Tuitt could possibly be dealing with an injury. However, Heyward added that there was no concern that Tuitt would’t be ready for Week 1.
“He’s part of this team and that’s the best thing we can do for him,” Heyward said of Tuitt in mid-August. “He’s working his way back. You know, he’s gone through some stuff this offseason and we’re just going to continue to be there for him. As the season approaches, John (Norwig) and Coach T [Mike Tomlin] will have more information, but he’s in every meeting, he’s learning and he’s just working his way back to us.”
On Wednesday, Steelers’ defensive coordinator Keith Butler addressed questions about when Tuitt would be back in the fold, practicing with the first-team defense ahead of the start of the regular season.
“When is he coming back? When we need him to come back,” Butler said of Tuitt. “Does he need to come back and get in shape and stuff like that? Sure, he does. But we’re not concerned about it right now. Hopefully, next week we’ll get him back. We’ll see. We’ll see what happens.”
With Dulac’s report of an undisclosed injury with Tuitt, it raises some real concerns about his ability to be available for the Week 1 opener on the road against the Buffalo Bills, putting the Steelers’ defensive line depth in question. Should Tuitt miss the Week 1 matchup, that would thrust Chris Wormley — who has had a great offseason in his own right — into the spotlight as the starter opposite Heyward, testing the Steelers’ depth overall in the trenches right away.