The Pittsburgh Steelers have traded for two player so far this regular season ahead of the expiring deadline tomorrow. One player came from a team they had already faced. The other came from a team they will be facing tonight. And they gave up their first-round pick in 2020 in order to get that one.
‘That one’ would be Minkah Fitzpatrick, the second-year safety that the Miami Dolphins made the 11th-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the top safety off the board, ahead of Derwin James and Terrell Edmunds, the latter with whom he is now teammates.
And so as the Steelers prepare to host Fitzpatrick’s former team in the Dolphins, it’s only fitting that head coach Mike Tomlin was asked on his show with Bob Pompeani about what he has seen from the young player through four games, and what he sees for him going forward.
He has lived up to expectations “without question”, Tomlin said in beginning his response. “He’s been little-to-no-maintenance. He’s been solidly productive. With each week he is gaining an understanding not only of what he is doing, but how it fits into the big picture. So you’re seeing his influence in some other areas. His ability to communicate with others, pre-snap disguises and so forth”.
Earlier in the week, Tomlin had talked about the luxury of the bye week to get some more time in with their newer acquisitions like Fitzpatrick and Nick Vannett, to try to get them up to speed beyond them simply knowing what they need to know on a week-to-week basis relative to their assignments.
“All of those things are growing. It’s probably realistic to expect those things to grow, but it’s still good to see it happening day-in and day-out, particularly with the start we had”, Tomlin reflected. “We had about two or three days prep when we took him into a stadium. It’s good to back up a little bit and talk about philosophical things so he has a better fundamental base in understanding what it is that we do”.
As you’ll recall, the Steelers acquired Fitzpatrick after the Week Two game, and he had three days of practice before he started and played every snap against the San Francisco 49ers. He recorded an interception and a forced fumble in that contest, and though he hasn’t recorded another turnover yet since then, he has been ‘solidly productive’, as Tomlin said, with a few warts here and there that could be chalked up to still learning.
It will be interesting to monitor Fitzpatrick’s usage in this game to see how they look to expand his role and the variety of things that they will call upon him to do going forward. While they initially wanted him fixed at free safety while he picks things up, they were also eager to get him into a position where they could move him around into different spots.