Stephon Tuitt was called upon late last season to step up when Cameron Heyward, the leader not just on the defensive line, but the defense in general, was placed on injured reserve with a pectoral injury.
And he responded. Tuitt picked up his play, became a leader on the line, and grew along the way.
"I learned a lot, I grew a lot," said Tuitt, the Steelers second-round draft pick in 2014.
Tuitt knows he still has room to grow, and he will be doing that for a while in a Steelers uniform.
Tuitt, who had one year remaining on his contract, was signed to a new six-year contract.
"This is one of the best organizations to be a part of, especially for a guy like me," said Tuitt. "I (came in) as a young guy, super raw. I have some great coaches who have helped me and I have seen my game pick up, my confidence level rise, my leadership ability rise. Being a part of an organization like this, I can see why a lot of great players come from here, a lot of Hall of Fame players come from here.
"I love the organization."
There is something else Tuitt loves, and that is putting up big numbers, especially when it comes to sacks.
"It is the best part of game," said Tuitt.
Tuitt has 11.5 sacks in three seasons, but he knows those numbers need to grow to help the defense overall.
"I am a double-digit sack guy. I am," said Tuitt. "I would have had it last year if I didn't miss my sacks. That is my goal this year. I just have to work on the little things to get my sacks. Things like working out, watching film. Understanding what you are good at, what you aren't good at. How you can become good at that. Know that you are a dominant force and believing that you are a dominant force. Come out here on the field and do the things you need to do on the field.
"I do have a knack for getting to the quarterback. For me, my thing is to stop him and get him to the ground. I had a lot of missed tackles. A lot of those missed tackles are sacks. My process has to be finishing, slowing down, and getting him down to the ground."
Tuitt has 106 total tackles, 77 of them solo stops, four pass defenses, three forced fumbles and one interception to date. Last season he had 38 tackles, four sacks, and two forced fumbles. They are numbers he wants to improve on.
"I want to be better than I was last year," said Tuitt. "I want to be why our team has a dominant defense. All of the things I wake up to and try to check off to be the best person I can be. It's about coming out here every day, working hard, getting to know your teammates, doing the little things to get better and become a better person.
"I am blessed to have the talent to play this game, but every year I can get better. Every year you can learn something about yourself, you watch something that you notice, I never did this before and it works. You work on it and it becomes something special. Right now I am working on something for me, a signature move that I can go into the game and know I can do it and just take the quarterback down. I have a talent to get up the field and stop the run and the pass. Being the all-around best player I can be. I work on that every day."