Keith Butler On Stephon Tuitt: ‘I Don’t Know When I Can Tell You He’s Coming Back’

It’s certainly been sounding more and more like the Pittsburgh Steelers won’t have defensive end Stephon Tuitt for the teams Week 1 game against the Buffalo Bills as he’s still yet to resume practicing. In fact, it sounds like Tuitt might be placed on the Steelers’ Reserve/Injured list very soon and prior to Week 1. After Wednesday’s practice, Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler was asked about Tuitt and specifically if he is indeed injured or is he still grieving the loss of his younger brother or is he just out of shape right now.

“Probably a little bit of all three,” Butler said. “No, his knee’s bothering him right now, as far as I know. I don’t know exactly everything about his knee. I just know it’s slowing him down right now. To tell you the truth. I don’t know how I’d handle my mom watching her son die. I don’t know if I could handle that, you know? So, I’m not sure what to tell you other than his knee is bothering him a little bit and he might be a little bit overweight. And what he’s doing with his mother, you know, those things. So, we hope to get him back and I think we will get him back, but I don’t know when I can tell you he’s coming back.”

Last week when Butler met the media, he said that the hope was that Tuitt would be back practicing this week. It’s obvious now that Tuitt won’t practice before the team has off the next several days.

“Stephon, you know, we were hoping he was ready to go, but we didn’t know,” Butler said on Wednesday. “You never know, you don’t know how injuries go sometimes.”

The Steelers kept a total of eight defensive linemen on their initial 53-man roster on Tuesday and that’s yet another sign that Tuitt might be moved to the team’s Reserve/Injured list soon. If that indeed happens, Butler sounds very comfortable with the other seven defensive linemen the team will have until Tuitt is healthy enough to start playing.

“It gives our young guys a chance to develop a little bit more and watch the guys,” Butler said of Tuitt being sidelined still. “Not to say that our young guys aren’t going to play. We always rotate people early in the season and the reason we do that is because it’s very hard to get in what I call hitting shape and cardiovascular shape unless you do it. And so, we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got enough people and we keep people fresh during the game, hopefully.”

Should Tuitt be placed on the Reserve/Injured list, he’ll need to miss at least the first three games of the 2021 season. That put his earliest return at Week 4 when the Steelers play the Green Bay Packers on the road.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the other seven defensive linemen on the Steelers’ 53-man active roster were Cameron Heyward, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, Carlos Davis, Isaiah Buggs, Henry Mondeaux and rookie Isaiahh Loudermilk. Wormley would be the player expected to start in place of Tuitt should he not be ready for the start of the regular season.

Tuitt’s younger brother was tragically killed in a hit-and-run accident back in June.

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