Less than two days after agreeing to a new contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Stephon Tuitt went down with his first injury of 2017.
It’s never easy to see someone go down early in the season. When it’s a player poised for a breakout season, it’s even harder.
That’s the cruel reality for Stephon Tuitt and the Pittsburgh Steelers. With the weekend starting off so well, with Tuitt signing a six-year contract extension, it ended in the worst way possible – a possible season ending injury.
For those who missed Sunday’s news, Tuitt went down early in the first quarter of Sunday’s game vs. the Cleveland Browns with an arm injury. Prior to Monday’s MRI, the team fears the defensive end could have suffered a torn bicep which would sideline him for the remainder of the season.
While this is terrible news for Tuitt, it’s just as bad for the Steelers and their defense. After losing a high-quality defensive end, they now need to find a replacement to match the intensity and gameplay ability of what Tuitt would have brought to the field this season.
The 2014 second-round draft pick has racked up 108 tackles and 11.5 sacks throughout his time in Pittsburgh. But honestly, 2017 would’ve been better than anything he’s done before.
Last season, Tuitt became one of the leaders on this defense, and over the offseason, showed he’s going to be one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL. If he was able to fulfill a whole 16 game year, there’s no doubt he would’ve matched every bit of potential he had coming into the season.
Pittsburgh seemed to be ready for this loss, though. With the signing of Tyson Alualu over the offseason, the Steelers have a former top 10 pick who isn’t a terrible downgrade for a starting defensive end. As long as he can stay healthy and contribute enough that offenses aren’t able to take advantage of his side, Alualu will be perfect for replacing Tuitt.
His five tackles in Week 1 were solid after coming in early in the first. While he wasn’t able to find the quarterback, you could tell there wasn’t much of a drop off in reliability from when he and Tuitt were on the field.
Pittsburgh certainly didn’t sign Alualu with the expectations of Tuitt going down. But this offseason, they made moves to win now, and by having reliable backups, they’re able to continue moving forward, even with a major injury like this one.
The Tuitt injury hurts, but with Alualu stepping in, the Steelers are losing much less talent than they would in years past. Which, will go a long way in keeping this defense competitive as the season progresses.