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Tuitt making his move for playing time

It was an attention-getting play, and the type that perhaps only someone with Stephon Tuitt's rare combination of size and athleticism is capable of making.

"I was on the edge. I had contain," Tuitt explained. "All I did was try to move my way inside, and I was going to use my speed so they wouldn't break contain. He ended up throwing the ball right to me because he was getting tremendous pressure from the other side."

The asterisk that must be attached to the leaping interception Tuitt described in such detail is it happened in practice. Opportunities to make such splash plays in a game have been infrequent for the No. 2 pick from Notre Dame.

The anticipation in the aftermath of the additions of No. 1 pick Ryan Shazier and Tuitt had been much greater back in May.

"Both of these players, if all develops as anticipated, are going to get a lot of playing time," defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau suggested at the time.

Shazier, when healthy, has been a starter since Day 1.

But Tuitt hasn't been much more than a spare part.

He played 12 snaps on defense in Sunday's 17-9 win at Jacksonville after seeing the field for just three defensive snaps the previous week. And his stats through five games consist of half a tackle.

"I'm still working hard to become the player the coaches see me as and my fellow teammates see me as," Tuitt said. "It just shows you have to keep working.

"I'm just blessed to be here, and I'm not going to take this opportunity for granted. I'm going to work hard every day."

Tuitt was a regular with the first-team defense as an inside rusher in the sub-package alignment in the preseason.

In the regular season he has fallen in line behind defensive-line starters Cam Thomas, Steve McLendon and Cam Heyward, and veteran Brett Keisel, who rejoined the Steelers just before their preseason game on Aug. 21 in Philadelphia.

"When they get tired, I get thrown in there," Tuitt said.

That's a development that has neither surprised nor frustrated Tuitt.

"I'm a rookie," he said. "I still have to prove myself. I still have to gain the trust of the team.

"We have veteran players here so I have to wait my turn. As a football player, of course I'm eager to get in there, any player would be that way. Right now I'm just waiting my turn and doing the things I have to do to be prepared for that."

Although Tuitt's practice-field persistence hasn't yet translated into a steady diet of consistent snaps, LeBeau said today that situation is subject to change.

"I think if you ask us that question in a couple of weeks we'll be answering it differently," LeBeau said. "He's coming along real well, and we're looking to get him in there and get some action."

In the meantime Tuitt is doing what he can when he can.

His interception of Bruce Gradkowski during Wednesday's practice was the latest example. Had that occurred in a game, "I would have taken that to the house," Tuitt insisted.

He may not have to wait much longer for more such opportunities.

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