Last night following the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Gerry Dulac shared on Twitter what he has been told of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ thinking behind the trade. He wrote that Sean Davis, their starting free safety, has suffered a torn labrum, which occurred on Monday, presumably during a tackle attempt on Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf.
Davis also suffered a torn labrum during his rookie season in 2016 against the Philadelphia Eagles; however, he only missed one game, and played the rest of the season through the injury. In fact, he earned a starting strong safety job while playing through it.
“I actually don’t plan on missing any” games, Davis told Chris Adamski yesterday in the Steelers’ locker room. “I gotta get back on the field”, he added. Davis already missed the season opener with an ankle injury he suffered in the third preseason game, and it wasn’t clear during the building to Sunday that he would play in the second week.
All of this reminded me, however, of something that he also said last week, even while saying that he would play against the Seahawks. I was going to write about it then, but ultimately decided not to. Now it feels more relevant.
“This is my fourth year around. I’m not gonna play hurt no more”, he told reporters on Thursday. “The guys on the other side of the ball, they’re just too good. You can’t keep up with them. You’ve kind of got to put your pride aside and just be a smarter football player. I’ve learned that. [But] I’m good to go this week”.
Adamski specified in the article in which the earlier quote comes that Davis was still awaiting the results of an MRI, so he was making that comment having not yet known, assuming that Dulac’s report is accurate, that he had suffered a torn labrum.
That would explain the timeline, and also the fact that others reported the Steelers were not a part of the early push to acquire Fitzpatrick. They really went off-script with this one, giving up a first-round pick outside of a move to trade up in the round, which is the first time that they have done that literally in over half a century.
So expect Fitzpatrick to be your new starting free safety. Perhaps for the next four years and beyond. Davis was already not going to be back next year, but if he’s going to miss a decent amount of time with this injury, then he’s simply going to be phased out, and will return as a sub-package player once he gets healthy enough to resurface for play.