Minkah Fitzpatrick was more bystander than active participant during the Pittsburgh Steelers’ spring OTAs and minicamp. But he didn’t use the time to kick back and relax either. He was locked in, just from the sidelines.
That’s how he explained things to Steelers.com’s Mike Prisuta in a sit-down interview after inking his record deal.
“I didn’t want guys to think that I was shut off that I was relaxed and sitting back and enjoying the ride,” Fitzpatrick said. “I was still working out on my own challenging myself and myself and I was watching every single play, taking mental reps every single play. If I saw something I didn’t like, I coached a guy up and if I saw something I liked I’ll take another mental note of it and put it in my back pocket.”
Fitzpatrick’s instincts and football IQ is part of what separates him and has made him the highest paid safety in football. Pittsburgh aided him by playing him at free safety after Miami attempted to use him everywhere but the middle of the field, leading to him asking out of the organization. Pittsburgh’s kept it simple, allowing Fitzpatrick to play fast and where he thrives the most. It’s resulted in a two-time Pro Bowl, two-time All-Pro career and countless impact plays. He’s picked off 11 passes as a Steeler with two pick sixes, one against the Colts and the other against Baker Mayfield and the Browns. He’s emerged as one of the league’s top safeties and is now paid more than any of them.
Fitzpatrick’s attitude and approach to the game is what ensured he remained a Steeler. Similar to TJ Watt, a quiet, workmanlike approach that isn’t flashy, isn’t look-at-me. Just get the job done. He does.
“It’s definitely important for me to show the other guys that I’m locked in even though I’m not on the field with them, practicing full speed. I wanted them to know that I’m committed to winning, I’m committed to challenging, not just myself, but everybody around me to a high standard.”
He will remain a Steeler for the long haul, perhaps for the rest of his career, though that will require at least one more contract extension. With the deal done, there’s no longer any discussion over a “hold-in” like Watt had last summer, sitting out of team drills and spending the dog days of summer working on the side. Fitzpatrick will enter St. Vincent College, his first time there, as a full participant, as the Steelers’ defense looks to make big strides compared to 2021. One that will look to improve its run defense by leaps and bounds while creating more splash in the secondary. Fitzpatrick finished last year with just two interceptions, the fewest since his rookie year.