Lost During ‘Best Year,’ Steelers Hurting for Tuitt

Teammates react to news that DL is done for year

Josh Rowntree
October 15, 2019 - 1:17 pm

The Steelers’ celebration after Sunday night’s win in Los Angeles was tempered Monday, when the team learned that defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt would miss the rest of the season with a pectoral injury. 

Tuitt becomes the third stater to be ruled out for the remainder of 2019, joining quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and safety Sean Davis. 

What makes matters worse is that Tuitt, 26, was in the midst of arguably his best season as a professional, racking up 3.5 sacks and six tackles for loss through Pittsburgh’s first five games. 

“You never want to see one of your brothers go down like that, so it’s tough,” fellow defensive lineman Tyson Alualu said. “We’re hurting for him, especially with the type of year he was having. He was having his best year. 

“He was a guy that led by example, went out and showed the passion he plays with and how well he was playing this year, making all those plays. He’s a great leader on this team.”

Tuitt signed a five-year, $60 million contract extension in September of 2017. Results have been mixed since then, but this season appeared to be one in which the former second-round pick from Notre Dame was beginning to establish himself as one of the game’s best. 

“I think he could have played in the Pro Bowl,” defensive coordinator Keith Butler said. “We’re going to miss him, but the other guys are going to have to step up.” 

“I thought Tuitt was having a heck of a year,” defensive lineman Cam Heyward added. “From the offseason to where he got here, he made a lot of progression. I was proud of him.”

The Steelers will not only need to replace a top player, but also, yet again, an established veteran presence. 

“Tuitt taught me a lot when I first came in here,” rookie defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs said. “In the summer he taught me a lot, he helped with a lot of things through preseason and playing. Just to see him go down is just not good. It’s kind of hurting.”

A pectoral tear and subsequent surgery is projected at a six month recovery, though that can fluctuate given on the person. That means going under the knife, and a lot of work to get back on the field, are ahead of Tuitt. 

“I talked to him,” defensive tackle Javon Hargrave said. “Of course, it’s hurtful. He’s hurt, but he’s in good spirits. He’s just got to do what he’s got to do.”

“I like to think he was having a Pro Bowl, All-Pro year.,” Heyward added. “Now he’s got set back. But he’s going to bounce back in a big way.”