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Tuitt: 'I did feel pressure'


It's defined in many different ways.

For Stephon Tuitt, the definition was plain and clear. Pressure: "The feeling of stressful urgency caused by the necessity of doing or achieving something."

Being a football player, there is always pressure. Sometimes it comes from within, sometimes it comes from outside. But it almost always exists.

But that pressure escalated a bit for Tuitt when Cameron Heyward suffered a torn pectoral muscle in November, and was then placed on the reserve/injured list, out for the rest of the season.

Suddenly Tuitt was the leader on the defensive line in his third season, tasked with picking up the slack for one of the best players on defense.

"I did feel pressure," said Tuitt. "I knew if I didn't do well, our success, where we got to this season, wouldn't have happened if I didn't choose to be a better football player that day.

"Being a part of an organization such as the Steelers, pressure is what gets you through the day. You have pressure to be a better player, a better person, than you were the day before. Having that pressure, I was already used to it. Knowing what to do with that pressure is what I had to learn, and how to be able to know how to give the information I needed to give to the defensive linemen that were following me. That is what I needed to learn. When you have a wonderful organization like this, you don't want to fail them."

Tuitt relied on Heyward, who still had a strong presence in the locker room and defensive line meeting room to help him. He also relied on his defensive line/assistant head coach John Mitchell. At the same time, he needed to perform for Mitchell.

"I knew he needed me to step up," said Tuitt. "Not just because of my development, but in general. We had a significant person not just on the field, but off the field, who went down. When they drafted me they saw me becoming that type of person too. It's just that my time was coming sooner than expected due to circumstances. I was ready to do it. I was ready to be that person."

One of the biggest steps he had to take, was just changing his style. Not who he was on the inside, but how he handled himself with the defensive line unit, how he communicated and interacted with them.

"Everybody has their style," said Tuitt. "I was always to myself growing up as a football player. I realized communication is a key. Communication can help you grow. Communication as a whole can help us grow. Once we started doing that all together, and bought into that, we grew and were on the verge of something great. It was an awesome experience."

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