The Pittsburgh Steelers may have lost Stephon Tuitt this week, but they have regained Tuzar Skipper, their star rookie college free agent pass rusher who impressed so much during the 2019 preseason that he never played a snap for the team.
He did, however, play in six games for the New York Giants that season after claiming him off waivers. He also played in four games for the Tennessee Titans during the 2020 season, but found himself without a team for most of the following campaign. He did spend the month of December with the Titans’ practice squad again, but was waived a month ago as of yesterday.
He was officially re-signed on June 1, and he spoke with reporters yesterday following his first session back on the field in the black and gold in two and a half years—acknowledging that there was something different about his time here, the place where he felt most comfortable in the league.
“Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. The guys in the locker room—it all started with the locker room”, he said, audio via 93.7 The Fan. “They were all welcoming and praying for individuals’ success and things like that. Especially when you make plays in the preseason, I love it when the guys come out and they cheer you on, things like that. Especially when you’re one of the guys that’s on the borderline”.
This actually marks Skipper’s third stint in Pittsburgh, the first after signing as a college free agent at the end of the 2019 NFL Draft. He was waived prior to the first game of the regular season that year even though he had made the initial 53-man roster, and then was claimed. Later that season, in mid-November, they signed him to the 53-man roster off the Giants’ practice squad, and spent the entire offseason with the team, but did not make the final 53-man roster in 2020.
Yet not for nothing, he was excited to be back the last time, and that seemed genuine then. He said that he was “Happy, happy, happy” to be back in Pittsburgh. “You don’t understand, my cheek muscles aren’t strong enough to keep the smile off my face”.
Ostensibly, he should at least be in the mix for a spot on the 53-man roster, especially if they can manage to carry five players on the edge. They did flex him out into special teams back in 2019 when they were giving him every opportunity to make the roster, so that won’t hurt him.
Behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith isn’t much that would make you celebrate. They signed veteran Genard Avery this offseason, who is a run-stopper first. Derrek Tuszka returns from last season. They also signed two edges as rookie college free agents this year—T.D. Moultry and Tyree Johnson.
Now back in familiar and comfortable territory, with some familiar faces (Watt was well established and Highsmith was a rookie in 2020), he has yet another chance to make an impact in Pittsburgh. Or at least to make the roster and stay there this time.