LeBeau On Tuitt: ‘He’s Definitely Going To Get A Significant Amount Of Playing Time’

Pittsburgh Steelers second-round draft pick, defensive end Stephon Tuitt, is progressing fast. How fast? Well, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau seems to think that the Notre Dame product will do something that we haven’t seen a rookie defensive end do in Pittsburgh for quite some time, and that’s play a lot.

“He’s definitely going to get a significant amount of playing time,” LeBeau recently told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “He’s shown us a lot of athleticism for a big guy, and he’s in great shape. He can run all day.”

During the Steelers mandatory mini camp, defensive line coach John Mitchell took a more guarded approach when talking about Tuitt’s potential playing time in 2014.

“I’m going to play him as much as I can. We’re not going to rush him,” said the Steelers longtime defensive line coach of Tuitt. “I don’t care if he’s a first- or second-round draft choice. When he’s ready to play and we can play him in certain situations I’m going to put him in the ballgame.

“The worst thing you want to happen to a good player who is going to be good down the road, he loses confidence because he goes in the game when he’s not ready to play. We’re not going to rush this kid in there. When he’s ready to play and we feel he can help this team, that’s when we’re going to play him.”

So just how much is a significant amount of playing time in the eyes of LeBeau?

When former Steelers defensive end Ziggy Hood was drafted in the first round back in 2009, he only played 225 snaps during his rookie season. He did, however, have starters Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith ahead of him on the depth chart, but the latter of the two was done for the season after the first five games.

Comparatively, current starter Cameron Heyward really didn’t play much more than Hood did during his rookie season, either, as he logged all of 267 regular season snaps.

In the case of Tuitt this year, only newcomer Cam Thomas currently stands in his way of receiving significant snaps as a rookie. If you’ve read this site for a while, you should know by now that my expectations for the former San Diego Chargers defensive lineman aren’t very high.

With starting nose tackle Steve McLendon sitting out the last two practices for unspecified reasons, Thomas has been taking the first-team reps in his absence and as a result, Tuitt’s been running with the first-team.

“It went well,” said Tuitt. “I got to experience something different and get a chance to play with some different players, with the first-team players.”

As to whether or not he’ll receive a significant amount of playing time as a rookie, Tuitt’s not ready to focus on that just yet.

“I think right now what I’ve been doing through camp is working hard and if it’s showing itself, that’s the best thing that I can give to my teammates is just going on the field every day and trying to get better.”

So what kind of feedback did Tuitt receive after working with the first-team the last few days.

“The feedback that I got, I did a pretty good job. I did the assignment that I am supposed to do,” he said.

If that is indeed the case and it continues, then he will indeed see significant playing time in 2014.

  • Game_Time

    They got a player with1st rd talent in the 2nd rd. Even More…… He fits the scheme and then some…… Great pick.

  • treeher

    Do you think maybe the center of the D is set for the future with Tuitt and Shazier and Mr. Timmons for at least a few more years?

  • joed32

    I hope he gets to rotate in a lot, but if the coach says “when he’s ready” what does that mean? I take it to mean when he knows the defense and that could take a while. I would let him play on passing downs right away, unlike you I think Thomas may be adequate but will need a rest here and there.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Tuitt is getting 1st team reps because McLendon sustained an injury and Cam Thomas shifted to nose tackle, not because Tuitt is better than Cam. That being said, Stephen obviously have a much brighter future comparing to Cam.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Yes he’s good but he also stood up for good amount of times at ND. Schematically-wise he’s got good grasp on the understanding part however; on his techniques he still need to tweak a bit here and there.

    I loved the pick, he’s going to be bookends with Cameron Heyward for a long time!

  • steeltown

    Do it Tuitt!

  • steeltown

    I think when considering the players showing promise, like Shazier, V.Williams, Spence, Shark Thomas and of course Timmons, yes I think we could have a very solid middle. Now, if McCullers turns into something, watch out! That’s a far reach though.

  • sweep_the_legarrette

    Draft picks normally didn’t get much playing time because we had high quality starters along the DL for a long time. That’s no longer the case. The spot opposite Cam Heyward is Tuitt’s as soon as he is ready.

  • Big White

    I don’t think the Steelers are in wait mode for Tuitt, Bryant, Archer or Shazier. Those four in particular will play a lot more than people are aware of.

  • Chad H

    I think he will be a starter by mid-season. He is from ND so he has the smarts to learn quick.

  • srdan

    Is it fair to assume that we can expect production from the first 3 round picks? It’s been a while!

    Much needed boost.

  • cencalsteeler

    Read that he ran off the field after practice the other day to call his mom to tell her he ran with the first team defense. Gotta love that story and makes me want to pull for him that much more!

  • Ike Evans

    What do u guys think our team needs are now for next year outside of depth? CB…OLB maybe….TE on offense OT ….maybe QB…maybe safety?

  • mlc43

    CB for sure. Depending on how the OLB play goes this year the position could be a 1st or mid to late round need. I like the idea of getting a game changing TE early. We can wait on the QB for a couple more years probably. OT is in the same boat as OLB and safety should be a 2nd or 3rd round pick.

  • Chris Ranieri

    Building a great defense!! Keep the ball rolling…hopefully we continue to fortify the D next year…

  • charles

    If McKullers works out this draft might start being compared to 74.

  • charles

    Immediate production from draft gets you deep in the playoffs, assuming you weren’t 1-15 the year before.