PITTSBURGH — Everything that Stephon Tuitt has gone through in the offseason has been the definition of a nightmare. In June, Tuitt’s younger brother was killed in a hit and run. Since showing up to training camp, Tuitt has done very little work, including only a little bit of exercise and almost no teamwork. With the rough roads that Tuitt is now traversing with his mental health, along with the prospect of ramping back up to football shape, it is beginning to seem less likely that he suits up for the Week 1 matchup against the Buffalo Bills.
Tyson Alualu, however, is not sweating Tuitt’s absence. While Tuitt’s status remains up in the air, Alualu believes that Tuitt will be ready to go on Sept. 12 in Orchard Park. But if he is not there, Alualu also has confidence that the Steelers have guys that are capable and can step right in.
“I think we’ve got the right guys to step up in the room and be ready,” Alualu said. “I feel like he’ll be ready come next weekend, but if he’s not, there’s a lot of people that will step right in and keep the ball rolling. I still need to be nose tackle. That’s where I’m at right now. That’s where I’ve taken the most reps. If that’s the case (Tuitt can’t play), I think most reps would be in the nickel.”
Chris Wormley gave no assurances that Tuitt would be ready to go, but believes that the team is helping Tuitt through the tough time with his mental health. For Wormley, making sure that Tuitt is fully healthy, both mentally and physically, is priority number one.
“Tuitt went through something pretty traumatic this offseason,” Wormley said. “So, we’re giving him as much time as he needs. I think him being around us has been great. Not only for us but for him and our morale. We’re supporting him on this journey back to being with us and we’re excited to have him back whenever that is.”
Should Tuitt not be ready to go in Week 1, the Steelers will likely put Alualu at nose tackle and Wormely as the five-technique. That is a place where Alualu feels confident in Wormley, who has been a force for the Steelers in the preseason.
“I think his [Wormley’s] attributes fit the prototypical 3-4 end, and it definitely helps having Cam and Tuitt to learn behind and seeing how they play,” Alualu said. “I think it’s only helped elevate his game. That’s where he’s at now, learning the defense and he’s definitely taken that next step to be that player we need on the field.”
The Steelers have seen their rotation of Isaiahh Loudermilk, Carlos Davis, Isaiah Buggs, and Henry Mondeaux all show out at some point during the preseason. If Tuitt happens to miss not only the game against Buffalo but perhaps multiple games, the depth is something they certainly have to be confident in to step up.