Heyward on Tuitt: 'It's not season-ending'

There hasn't been any official word from the team, but the words that came out of Cameron Heyward's mouth about teammate Stephon Tuitt today likely have everyone in the locker room feeling a lot better than they did 24 hours ago.

"It's not season-ending," said Heyward, who offered no timetable for a return.

Tuitt suffered a biceps injury in the 21-18 win over the Cleveland Browns, leaving the game early.

Coach Mike Tomlin will provide the official update on Tuitt during his weekly press conference on Tuesday, but Heyward's comments provide hope.

"I am just glad it didn't wind up being season-ending," said Heyward. "We are definitely breathing a sigh of relief knowing that he will be able to play down the road.

"I know some people already reported he was going to miss the rest of the season. I texted him just to make sure nothing was finalized. To hear that already, that is something that can be detrimental to you because your psyche is a little bit messed up. We are very happy it wasn't season-ending and we will get more information soon."

When Tuitt went down, it was Tyson Alualu, the offseason free agent signing, and L.T. Walton who picked up the slack.

"I thought they both did an extremely good job of not only stepping in, but also making plays for themselves," said Heyward. "I thought they played a dang good football game."

Last year it was Heyward who suffered a triceps injury, ending his season, and Tuitt stepped up his game.

"I thought he grew a lot," said Heyward. "I thought he stepped up in that role. He grew as a leader. I was excited about what we were going to do this year, and we still have those goals in mind. It's not over. I expect him to be back. Whenever he is, we get back to rolling."

Taking their turn: When the Steelers signed Alualu back in March, it was for depth at the line, having someone to rotate, and as an insurance policy for times like this.

"Tyson is a good player," said Heyward. "We had a great opportunity getting him. He solidifies our front. There is a rotation if we need it. We like that rotation. It keeps everybody fresh and there's not a drop off. Tyson is ready for this role. He is going to do well in that spot."

Alualu was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, the 10th pick overall. He spent the last seven seasons with the Jaguars, seeing action in 110 games, starting 88, and was inactive for only two games in his career. 

"Any time you can go, you go," said Alualu. "I always had that mentality. I am trying to keep it up and be out there for my teammates and do my job when I am called upon."

When he signed with the Steelers, Alualu knew they had two starting defensive ends in Heyward and Tuitt. His goal was to come in, compete, be part of the rotation, and something a little more.

"I just wanted to be part of something special," said Alualu. "I know I had that here. I just wanted an opportunity to compete. I knew I was coming into a good group. I came in with the mentality that I would do my best to make them better, because I know they will do that for me.

"I knew I was going to get a good amount of snaps. The great teams do that, rotate guys in without having the drop off."

There is no doubt the amount of snaps he is going to see is about to increase dramatically. Alualu had five tackles against the Browns after Tuitt went down, and that kind of production will be needed until Tuitt returns to the field.

"I don't feel pressure," said Alualu. "I have always prepared to go out there and do the best I can, do my job. Whatever the coaches ask of me and be accountable to the players I am next to.

"I think we have the right group of guys to step up and do their job the best way they can."

Walton is also ready to step to the plate and give the defense the boost it's going to need while Tuitt is out.

"Whatever is needed, I am going to do," said Walton. "I know how to play end or nose, whatever is needed I can do."

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