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Cam Heyward Jokes He Didn’t Realize Minkah Fitzpatrick Was Sick: ‘Minkah’s Always Just Grumpy’

It’s a lot easier to laugh about now. Minkah Fitzpatrick’s doing alright after an emergency appendectomy and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense didn’t miss a beat in their 20-10 win over the New Orleans Saints Sunday afternoon. Talking to reporters about Fitzpatrick’s sudden absence, Cam Heyward joked he didn’t even realize Fitzpatrick was sick during the team’s Friday walk-through when Fitzpatrick began to show symptoms.

“After walkthrough, I just saw something on my phone,” Heyward said post-game via Steelers.com. “And I texted him, he was like, ‘yeah, I had to get surgery. We saw him during the walkthrough and you’re not thinking anything of it. Minkah’s just grumpy all the time.”

Heyward said that last part with a laugh, to be clear. No harsh commentary there for the guy who just got out of the hospital.

A win is sure to put a smile on Fitzpatrick’s face. In his Steelers’ debut, veteran Damontae Kazee started in Fitzpatrick’s place and came away with a key second-half interception, finishing the day with four total tackles and a pass deflection. For the second time in three games, the Steelers’ defense pitched a second-half shutout and allowed just one touchdown to the Saints. Though they’ve had a pair of ugly blowouts that can’t be ignored, Pittsburgh’s defense has held the opposition under 21 points in five games this season.

Fitzpatrick was also on the field pre-game for today’s win, the first sign of what’s hopefully a quick recovery.

Pittsburgh was expected to return to full firepower for this game with T.J. Watt seeing the field for the first time since Week One. But Fitzpatrick threw a last-second wrench into those plans and to date, Watt and Fitzpatrick have only been on the field together for 64 snaps, all coming in Week One against the Cincinnati Bengals. While losing a star safety last-second would rattle many teams, Heyward said Mike Tomlin’s message was clear.

“Mike T explained it to us. First, you gotta take care of the player. Then we gotta make sure we take care of our business while Minkah’s out.”

Fitzpatrick’s return is still unknown. While it’s possible he could come back for next Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, that looks pretty unlikely. A more realistic date would be November 28th against the Indianapolis Colts, a Monday night tilt, that would give him more time to recover and return to practice. Gaining medical clearance for contact will be the biggest hurdle for Fitzpatrick to take the field. But Tomlin’s next-man-up mentality shined through again with Kazee and a Steelers’ defense that looked a whole lot better than it has.

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