On Thursday, DC Teryl Austin spoke to the media and talked about last week’s win at home against the New Orleans Saints and gave his thoughts on Pittsburgh’s upcoming matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. Austin talked about the impact of having OLB T.J. Watt return to the lineup as well as gave his two cents on defending the likes of QB Joe Burrow and RB Joe Mixon.
When asked about the status of S Minkah Fitzpatrick and whether he expects his star safety to suit up on Sunday, Austin remained noncommittal to whether Fitzpatrick will be up or down for the team’s AFC North clash.
“I have none,” Austin said regarding his expectations if Fitzpatrick will be cleared for Sunday’s game per official team transcript. “If he’s available, that would be great. If he’s not, we’ll move on without him. Right now, until we get closer to the game, I don’t have much of an expectation. We’re just working with the guys we have right now. We’ll see where he’s at at the end of the week. He’s got plenty of reps under his belt, so I don’t worry about it if he’s not cleared or whatever until game time.”
Fitzpatrick missed last week’s game against the Saints with an emergency an appendectomy for appendicitis. ESPN’s Adam Schefter mentioned in his breaking news that Fitzpatrick was expected to miss multiple weeks whereas Steelers Depot’s very own Dr. Melanie Friedlander stated that there was a chance (albeit a slim one) for him to return this week against the Bengals with Week 12 against the Colts being the most likely scenario.
However, things look to be trending the right way with Fitzpatrick back participating in practice today according to video via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Brian Batko. Fitzpatrick wanted to try and put off surgery and play through the pain last week which wouldn’t have been a minor miracle given the pain and circumstances associated with appendicitis. However, Fitzpatrick isn’t like most humans as one of the best safeties in the NFL, playing at a high level as one of the foundational pieces of the Steelers defense.
Ultimately, the team doctors will likely be the ones to give Fitzpatrick the green light if he is indeed ready to go on Sunday but seeing as that the safety has gotten back to practice faster than anyone anticipated, perhaps Austin is trying to keep the status of Fitzpatrick close to the vest to possibly surprise the Bengals if he is indeed active. Fitzpatrick had the game of his life last time the two teams squared off in the season opener, and here’s hoping he can have a similar impact in this meeting should he get the green light prior to kickoff.