The Pittsburgh Steelers brought back a familiar face, officially signing EDGE rusher Tuzar Skipper today. Skipper began his NFL journey as a Steeler, earning a contract as a tryout player during the team’s 2019 rookie minicamp . He turned into a summer star and had a great preseason, but it wasn’t enough to stick on the 53-man roster. Cut before Week 1, Pittsburgh lost him to the Giants on a waiver claim and he’s bounced around since, including a second stint with the Steelers.
For Skipper, the third time hopes to be the charm, and speaking with reporters today, he discussed how his game has improved.
“I learned like more on drops and things like that,” he told reporters in audio from 93.7 The Fan. “So basically my weaknesses. I got to work on my weaknesses a lot when I was gone. Got to sharpen those up and now I’m ready to ball.”
Skipper had two big weaknesses during an otherwise fantastic first stint with the team. Coverage and special teams. He was a bigger, heavier body who, like most players coming out of college, didn’t have much experience moving backwards. Pittsburgh no longer asks its EDGE rushers to drop as much as they used to, T.J. Watt went from 37% his rookie year to about 10% each of the last two, but it’s still something they must be able to do. Most often, Steelers’ EDGE rushers drop as the away side player on a slot blitz or against twin receivers sets because the team doesn’t travel their cornerbacks.
The other issue came on special teams. Skipper was hardly used on those units during the preseason until the final game, where he performed well and picked up two tackles. Why Skipper didn’t log much time there is a mystery but for him to survive this time around, Danny Smith will have to pound the table for him.
Skipper will be competing with the likes of Genard Avery and Derrek Tuszka along with undrafted rookies in Tyree Johnson and T.D. Moultry. Depth here is a concern but all the Steelers need is one guy of that group to emerge as a #3 behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. Tuszka can function as the #4 and primary special-teamer with someone else, perhaps a rookie, landing on the practice squad.
The Steelers are looking for help, and Skipper is looking for stability. If he can’t make it now, there won’t be a fourth stint with the team.