Now that training camp is over with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in Pittsburgh and gearing up for what they hope will be a much more productive season, it’s time to take stock of where the team stands. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of training camp and the preseason and the regular season as it plays out. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning for each one. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: S Minkah Fitzpatrick
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: A week after missing the first game due to injury of his NFL career, All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is set to return for a homecoming of sorts. Back from a knee injury, he will face the team that drafted him in 2018, the Miami Dolphins, before they traded him to the Steelers two games into the 2019 season—two games into Brian Flores’ tenure as head coach.
Now in his fifth season, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick had only missed one game in his career up until last week, and that came in the 2021 season when he was forced to be out after contracting COVID-19. He had never missed a game because of a physical injury until a knee issue kept him out last week.
But he is back now, going full in practice after not practicing at all a week earlier, ready for the challenge of taking on his former ballclub, for him he played through the first 18 games of his career. Of course, it was with the Steelers that he fully blossomed into the All-Pro that we now know him as.
Fitzpatrick compiled 33 tackles with three interceptions, including a touchdown (nearly another) and four passes defensed over the course of his playing time in the first five games of the season. Suffice it to say that the Steelers value his presence.
They managed to get by without him last week in spite of the fact that they were facing the future Hall of Famer at quarterback, Tom Brady. The second-year Tre Norwood started at safety in his place, but it was about the scheme that they employed defensively, particularly in the secondary, that managed to win the day and score the surprise victory.
A win today wouldn’t necessarily be an upset, although it would certainly be recognized as a ‘good’ one. Both teams have dealt with serious injury issues leading up to this game, and still do (T.J. Watt remains a glaring specter until he returns), but this feels like a winnable game for Pittsburgh.