It was a relatively forgettable play late in a preseason game few if any are destined to remember, but Tuzar Skipper felt compelled to celebrate it, anyway.
“That was a ‘Rock The Baby,’” he explained regarding the two-handed, child-cuddling gesture he employed as an exclamation point after sacking Kansas City quarterback Chase Litton with less than four minutes remaining in Saturday night’s 17-7 victory over the Chiefs. “I put ’em to sleep. I had to let ’em know the game was over and I had to put the kids away.”
The more significant action had been the sack that precluded the celebration.
It was Skipper’s second in two games, which is tied with outside linebacker Bud Dupree for the team preseason lead.
Such plays, even late in games that don’t count, mean everything to an undrafted rookie from Toledo trying to make the conversion from college defensive end to NFL outside linebacker.
“I try to give them every opportunity to see me on the field making plays, so when they bring my name up in about two weeks, it’s going to be a hard time for them to get rid of me,” Skipper said.
The numbers are against him.
The cut from 90 to 53 on Aug. 31 Skipper referenced will include reductions on defense in general and at his position in particular.
“I want to be one they have to keep,” he said. “I just go out there every day and try to give it my best, especially during game days. I just try to show them I’m supposed to be out here, supposed to be on this team and supposed to be playing the position I’m playing.”
For players in Skipper’s position, preseason games such as the one the Steelers will play on Sunday night in Nashville can mean everything.
So can opportunities in practice with and against a higher caliber of competition.
Skipper was given a brief look this week with the first-team defense.
“Something like that, I believe so,” he said.
Those may or may not have been his first snaps of the preseason with the first unit.
“Maybe,” Skipper said. “I think so, I don’t know. Whenever they call my name out there, I’m there.”
Skipper didn’t play with the first units on any of the four major special teams in the Kansas City game (punt, punt return, kickoff, kickoff return).
But he’s still having the time of his life this preseason.
“This is a dream come true,” Skipper said. “Even tough it’s not the real season now, I’ve been watching this forever. Watching the preseason come, watching guys go hard I’m like, “These boys are really playing hard. They’re really trying to make a roster.’
“And now I’m in those shoes.”