How the Steelers could deploy Tuzar Skipper against the Bengals
The Pittsburgh Steelers recently signed preseason stud Tuzar Skipper to the active roster. Here’s what we can expect to see from him against the Bengals.
After an all-around healthy 2018 season, the Steelers have been bitten by the injury bug hard. Ben Roethlisberger’s season ended back in Week 2 and Stephon Tuitt was placed on IR just before the bye week.
Things have gone from bad to worse. Pittsburgh’s already struggling offense recently saw injuries to James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Diontae Johnson, and it remains to be seen if any of the three could suit up this week against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Defensively, the Steelers have been more healthy but the absences of Ola Adeniyi and Anthony Chickillo last week left the Steelers without a single backup edge defender last week.
It may have taken twelve weeks, but Pittsburgh fans finally got what they were hoping for all along with preseason standout Tuzar Skipper returning to the Steel City.
Skipper, an undrafted rookie from Toledo, had a six-game stint with the New York Giants before being released after Week 7. The 6’3” 246-pound edge defender could be a welcome addition to a depleted group of players.
Last week, Chickillo wasn’t able to go against the Browns after suffering a rib injury against the Rams, and Adeniyi suffered a concussion on a special teams tackle. Because of this, Skipper could be forced into action right away for the Steelers.
Skipper was a training camp darling and preseason stud this year. He backed up his eye-catching flashes in camp with stunning numbers in August – recording 18 tackles, 5.0 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles in just four partial preseason games.
As we all know, regular season football is on a completely different level (just ask Mason Rudolph). Tuzar Skipper was an undrafted player who has been sitting in free agency for the last month, and we should temper our expectations for him at this point.
Against the Bengals, Skipper could see a handful of snaps in his first regular-season action with the Steelers. If T.J. Watt or Bud Dupree were to suffer any sort of injury, Skipper would obviously see a drastic spike in playing time.
The rookie edge defender may have a chance to hear his number called much more than we expect – depending on the pace of the game. The last time these two teams faced, the Steelers ran away with a 27-3 victory. While it’s hard to count on this offense putting the game out of reach, if Pittsburgh gets a big lead against the Bengals, Skipper could see increased action.
For now, however, I expect the Steelers to take it slow with Skipper. We should see the bulk of his contributing coming on special teams with occasionally spelling Watt and Dupree of a few snaps here and there.
Fans are certainly glad to see Skipper back with the team, and a game against the Bengals should help ease him back into action. Let’s hope he proves to be a worthy enough option to stick around for 2019 and beyond.