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‘Knew He Was Starter-Capable:’ Teryl Austin On Damontae Kazee

When Damontae Kazee joined the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason it was an under the radar move. The signings of Mitch Trubisky, James Daniels, and Myles Jack stood out way more. However, once training camp and preseason came around the impact Kazee could have on the Steelers defense was shown. 

In preseason, head coach Mike Tomlin and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin debuted a three safety defensive look with Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, and Kazee that performed excellently, but then Kazee injured his wrist. Kazee finally returned to the lineup last Sunday against the New Orleans Saints and had an interception to kick off his Steelers career. Despite missing Fitzpatrick due to having his appendix removed, Kazee’s impact softened the blow of missing the All-Pro safety. 

In his weekly press conference as transcribed by the Steelers Austin spoke on Kazee and how even if Fitzpatrick is still out, they are comfortable with Kazee replacing him. 

“When we signed Damontae, we knew he was a starter-capable safety in this league” Austin said. “That’s why he was so attractive to us and being able to get him was very good for us and why early in the year, before he got hurt, we were working to get him on the field as much as possible.”

As mentioned before, the Steelers were looking to deploy that three safety set often this year so they could get more playmakers on the field. If you didn’t know it already Kazee is a playmaker. In his second season he led the league in interceptions with seven as an Atlanta Falcon back in 2018. That year, he picked off former Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger when the two teams met in Week Five. Now, the Steelers are calling on him to pick off passes of other teams. 

Going into the game against the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday, Fitzpatrick will likely be a game time decision; although he did practice today making his chances to play Sunday a bit more likely. If he plays though, don’t expect Austin and the Steelers to keep Kazee off the field too often as it seems that Austin wants him on the field as much as possible. 

“So, we were glad we had him and that he was up this past week, and we’re just looking for him to continue to improve moving forward and we’ll continue to figure out ways to get him on the field.”

If the Steelers do have all three safeties necessary to run their exotic three safety formation, expect Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow to have a tough time. He has not historically played that great against Pittsburgh, and there is very little film on this defense that the Pittsburgh staff and players have spoken so highly of. 

Despite not being a high profile free agent signing, Kazee has a chance to be one of the best from this past year if he can keep up the level of play he showed against the Saints. 

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