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Mike Tomlin Won’t Reveal Timeline for Minkah Fitzpatrick Return



Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick

UNITY TWP., Pa. — Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick has been at the team’s practice sessions at St. Vincent College.

But he hasn’t practiced at any of them.

Fitzpatrick has mostly stood in the middle back of the Steelers defense, watching and occasionally handing out some pointers to his younger brethren.

His absence has not been fully explained by the Steelers, with head coach Mike Tomlin first characterizing it as “personal.”

Asked Tuesday a potential timeframe for his return, Tomlin once again was less than forthcoming,

“Not that I’ll disclose,” Tomlin said. “He was excused by me and has my full support. That’s it.”

The situation is certainly unusual, but Fitzpatrick has probably not missed much in terms of needed preparation. The reigning NFL interceptions leader has been an All-Pro in three of his four seasons with the Steelers, and probably does not need that much work to get ready for the season.

Steelers Minkah Pro Bowl

AFC safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (39) of the Pittsburgh Steelers competes in the Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball event during the Pro Bowl Games skills events, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Henderson, Nev. (Gregory Payan/AP Images for NFL)

Tomlin has emphasized that his absence has created opportunities for other players, and that’s true, but the injury to Damontae Kazee has further depleted the secondary to the point that Kenny Robinson, who came home this season after being on the Carolina Panthers practice squad, was the first-team safety on Tuesday.

Like Fitzpatrick, defensive stalwarts such as Cam Heyward, and T.J. Watt likely also don’t need much season, but they have been more active participants, with Watt serving as a foil for rookie Darnell Washington on Tuesday.

In fact, the most important area that Fitzpatrick may be missing from is his ability to help test the Steelers’ starting offense. He and quarterback Kenny Pickett became film study buddies this spring, and are missing the opportunity to put those skills to good use against each other.

There’s plenty of time for Fitzpatrick to return to the Steelers and make his impact, but his absence certainly has become an unexpected storyline early in training camp.

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