Steelers Notebook: Tuitt Expects More

The second-year DE showed great improvement Sunday and says to expect the same learning curve for Bud Dupree. Also, new PK Garrett Hartley and the practice report.

LATROBE -- Pittsburgh Steelers fans who might be critical of Bud Dupree's performance in the Hall of Fame Game need only look at the performances of Ryan Shazier and Stephon Tuitt in that game as a sign of the growth potential that awaits Dupree in a year's time.

Both of last year's top draft picks played extremely well against the Minnesota Vikings. Shazier led the starters with five tackles, including a fourth-and-1 stop behind the line, and Tuitt was practically immovable as a defensive end in the Steelers' 3-4 and a tackle in their newly unveiled 4-3. He was credited with two tackles.

"The game slowed down for me a lot," said Tuitt, last year's second-round draft pick. "But I have high expectations of myself. I'm not going to sit here and say Sunday was my best game. I'm just going to say the game slowed down for me. I expect to do a lot of things to help our defense win games."

From a team perspective, the Steelers allowed only one first down and seven points in the first half, but, Tuitt said, "That wasn't really close to what we're capable of."

He explained it this way: "It was the first game and everyone was excited. It was the Hall of Fame Game and we were honoring guys. But I know from a personal standpoint that isn't even close to what I can be or we can be. That's the exciting part of it. I have personal things I want to polish up, and, as for our team, we're going to be a really exciting defense. ... When it gets together, we're going to be a very dominant defense."

Tuitt said that Shazier, the other rookie starter last season, "had a great game," and that both have grown exponentially from last season.

"This defense takes a year to get used to," Tuitt said. "I didn't start coming around until almost the end of the season. And I also had a guy in front of me, Brett Keisel, who I'll credit till the end of my career for teaching me so much. Ryan's got Lawrence Timmons."

Tuitt said that Dupree -- this year's first-round pick who's being roundly criticized for not generating any pressure in 17 rushes -- has his own teachers in Arthur Moats and James Harrison.

"He's going to come around," Tuitt said. "He's going to be fine. He's a quick, explosive guy who's definitely powerful too."

STEELERS SIGN KICKER

The Steelers signed Garrett Hartley after a three-man kicking tryout Tuesday at Heinz Field that included Jay Feely and Alex Henery.

Hartley, 29, is known as a clutch kicker, having made all eight of his field-goal attempts in NFL post-season play, including three from over 40 yards in Super Bowl 44 for the New Orleans Saints.

Hartley kicked for the Saints from 2008-13. Last year, in a brief stint with the Cleveland Browns, he converted all three of his attempts.

Hartley replaces Shaun Suisham, who tore his left ACL while helping make a tackle on the second-half kickoff Sunday. He'll have knee surgery on Wednesday, as will undrafted rookie running back Cameron Stingily.

"He's an established guy. He's a been-there done-that guy," Mike Tomlin said of Hartley. "He did a nice job today."

PRACTICE HIGHLIGHTS

* James Harrison returned and made his presence felt in the first drill, the two-point conversion drill, when he bull-rushed Alejandro Villanueva straight back into quarterback Landry Jones to force an incompletion. "I know when you get 92 in a uniform it changes the climate a little bit," Tomlin said. "I think it did today."

* Heath Miller made a slick snare of a high pass from Ben Roethlisberger for a two-pointer.

* Dupree bounced back with a strong practice. In one-on-ones he beat TE Cameron Clear four consecutive times, and in the no-huddle period blew by Marcus Gilbert to faux-sack Roethlisberger.

* The running game was back in a big way in the run-heavy first scrimmage as Le'Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams found big holes through the right side.

* There's usually one deep, play-action pass attempt in the run scrimmage, and this time Jones underthrew a bomb to Martavis Bryant. With Cortez Allen in tight coverage, Bryant appeared to have no chance but he stopped, came back and outjumped Allen to make the catch at its highest point and then he fell into the end zone.

* Josh Harris also ran for big yardage through the right side, and on the next snap Jawon Chisholm appeared headed through the same hole for a similar gain until safety Ian Wild blew Chisholm up.

* Rookie TE Jesse James continued to drop passes with two on Tuesday.

* Rookie safety Gerod Holliman blitzed up the middle, jumped to bat down Tajh Boyd's pass. Boyd, thinking Holliman had the ball, shot for Holliman's shins, and Holliman toppled over but was OK.

* NT Cam Thomas carried his strong play in Canton over into Tuesday's practice by whipping Cody Wallace in back-to-back one-on-ones.

MEDICAL REPORT

The Steelers waived/injured WR/QB Devin Gardner to make room for Hartley.

Also missing practice were Stingily, Matt Spaeth, Daniel McCullers (hamstring), Vince Williams (hamstring), Robert Golden (knee) and Ross Ventrone (ankle).

Mike Mitchell and Markus Wheaton dressed but did not participate in contact.

Jordan Zumwalt, the Steelers' leading tackler Sunday, left practice with a groin issue. He missed 2014 with a groin injury.


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