Teryl Austin Says He’ll ‘Find Some Places’ For Damontae Kazee To Play Sunday If Healthy

After breaking his forearm in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ final preseason game, safety Damontae Kazee is expected to return to the lineup this Sunday against the New Orleans Saints after missing the team’s first eight games of the year. Kazee, who led the NFL with seven interceptions in 2018 as a member of the Atlanta Falcons, will look to provide a spark to a team that’s struggled to generate turnovers after Week 1. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said that if Kazee is healthy enough to play, he’s going to find opportunities to get the safety on the field Sunday.

“We’ll see how he comes out of this week and how much we’ll be able to use him. If we’re able to use him, I’ll try to find some places to get him in the game. It may just be regular defense; it may not just be three safeties. We may get him regular defense, three-safety defense, whatever it might be, because I think he’s a good football player. So, we’ll work through that at the end of the week and as we get closer, we’ll kind of narrow those things down,” Austin said via official transcript provided by the team.

Pittsburgh had used three safety looks with Kazee, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds during the preseason, but with Kazee going down we haven’t seen any of that since. While we might not see it on Sunday, it would be hard to believe that Austin doesn’t dial up at least a few three-safety looks throughout the rest of the season to try and give the offense something different and potentially generate a splash play.

Regardless of how he’s used, getting Kazee back will be a positive for this defense. For one, it adds depth at safety, and it also adds another playmaker who can help make plays on the ball. Pittsburgh’s had opportunities to force turnovers, but they dropped four interceptions against the Dolphins and have had other opportunities where dropped interceptions have come back to bite them. One of those instances was in Week 2 against the New England Patriots when Cameron Sutton dropped an interception, and a few plays later Gunner Olszewski muffed the punt that put the Patriots in Steelers’ territory and led to an easy and eventual game-winning score. With Kazee known as a guy who can get takeaways, hopefully, he can show himself to be reliable with the ball in the air.

While Fitzpatrick and Edmunds will continue to operate as Pittsburgh’s starters, getting good players healthy and finding them reps is only going to help out the Steelers’ defense. With Kazee and potentially outside linebacker T.J. Watt returning this weekend, the Pittsburgh defense might be getting a whole lot stronger.

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