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Tuitt: 'I am tough on myself'

It's one thing to be your own worst critic, but rookie defensive end Stephon Tuitt is downright brutal when it comes to critiquing himself.

Tuitt won't give himself credit for his growth and development during the preseason, something coaches and teammates have seen, but instead stresses the need to continue improving.

"I am tough on myself," said Tuitt. "I want to be better for the team. I want to do the things the team wants me to do. I am still learning."

Of course he is still learning. He is a rookie, still just getting his feet wet playing in only three preseason games so far. It's going to take time, and patience.

"It's an ongoing process," said defensive end Cam Heyward. "He is young. He is 21-years old. He is going to make some mistakes. We are working on it. He is a heck of a player.

"He just has to keep plugging along and learn what he is doing out there. I know right now it probably seems like Spanish to him, but soon he'll be able to conjugate and do it. I am expecting a lot from him. He will continue to grow throughout the year. We want that. If he was satisfied right now it would be a big problem. But I am happy with where he is going."

The team has high hopes for Tuitt, selected in the second-round out of Notre Dame this year, and he hasn't disappointed so far. He is learning each week, and improving each week, but there are still steps to take.

"He has cut out his mental mistakes," said assistant head coach/defensive line coach John Mitchell. "He is using his hands better, he is staying square. The thing he has to do is fight through when he gets a little tired. This isn't Notre Dame; he is going to get tired.

"He has to play. That is the thing right now, before you become a complete ball player, and he is doing a lot of good things, is fighting through."

Through three preseason games Tuitt has eight tackles and one quarterback pressure. But it's not about numbers in his book; it's about improving on every aspect of his game.

"I have a very long way to go," said Tuitt. "Goals that I have in mind I want to accomplish. I want to work hard every day. So far I need to work on everything. I am focused on what I have to do to help the team win. I am learning my technique better, being able to look at myself and see how I could be better against anybody I face."

Tuitt has one more opportunity this preseason to improve, when the Steelers play the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night at Heinz Field, before games begin to count in the regular season. And he is ready to go.

"This is very important," said Tuitt. "Every game is very important. I am excited to go out and play. I want to make sure I finish off the preseason strong. I have to do everything I need to, go out on the field and practice and play hard.

"I am learning the defense. I am not comfortable in it, but I know 90% of it."

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