OLB Tuzar Skipper became a preseason superstar for the Pittsburgh Steelers back in 2019, signing as a UDFA out of Toledo. Having to fight his way to make the 53-man roster, Skipper had a training camp and preseason slate for the ages, racking up nine pressures, five sacks, and a forced fumble in only 112 snaps played on defense, earning him a spot on Pittsburgh’s initial regular season roster.
Tuzar Skipper has been quite the surprise for the Steelers’ defense so far this preseason, as Skipper has recorded nine total pressures, seven defensive stops and a forced fumble en route to a 90.4 overall grade across 112 defensive snaps this preseason.https://t.co/2HZEFP3z4k pic.twitter.com/8kxKeFUskH
— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) August 29, 2019
Tuzar Skipper's five sacks this preseason are the most by any Steelers' defender dating back to at least 2006, as far back as https://t.co/wqEDi1KPcv's stats go.
By comparison, Ola Adeniyi had three last year. #Steelers
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) August 30, 2019
However, shortly after making the team, Skipper was waived by Pittsburgh and brought in by the New York Giants. This set Skipper on a path on jumping off and on the practice squad and 53-man roster for the Giants, the Titans, the Falcons, and the Steelers again during that stretch from 2019 through this spring. However, after being released by the Titans early in May, Skipper found himself on the street, prompting Pittsburgh to bring him back in for the offseason and take him to training camp.
Skipper spoke with reporters in the locker room following his first OTA practice with Pittsburgh. When asked about his preseason success he had now three years ago in 2019 and if that previous success makes him more comfortable here being back here with the team, Skipper made sure to address that “the past is the past”.
“Nah, it’s just, what have I done lately? You know what I’m saying? And that’s what I go on and things like that. I want to ball, so I want to leave that in the past and make new history,” Skipper responded on audio via 93.7 The Fan.
While considered a preseason darling and fan favorite for many Steelers fans in 2019, Skipper won’t rest on his laurels and have that previous success skew his understanding of what he needs to do now in 2022 to make the 53-man roster this season. Sure, he flashed at times in terms of rushing the quarterbacks and getting pressure on backup-caliber players during preseason action. Still, Skipper has yet to stick with an NFL team three seasons later and has registered just eight total tackles and half a sack in 84 total defensive snaps played.
— Steelers Depot 7⃣ (@Steelersdepot) September 30, 2019
Therefore, Skipper best approach this offseason and upcoming training camp with the same mindset he had back in 2019 as a UDFA fighting to make the backend of the roster because, frankly, he is. He will have to compete with the likes of Genard Avery, Derrek Tuszka, and UDFAs Tyree Johnson and T.D. Moultry to earn a backup OLB spot behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith.
He may not be a big-name add, and Pittsburgh still could add a more established veteran later this summer to provide more pedigree and proven production behind the entrenched starters. However, Skipper finds himself in a great situation with an ambiguous depth chart behind Watt and Highsmith to go win a spot on the roster with the Steelers ahead of the 2022 season getting underway.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 26, 2019