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Minkah Fitzpatrick Hopes to Get Back to ‘Minkah Ball’

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Minkah Fitzpatrick
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick at OTAs on June 4, 2024. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — On paper, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ secondary is their most talented unit since 2020. All-Pro Minkah Fitzpatrick at free safety, DeShon Elliott at strong safety, Joey Porter Jr. and Donte Jackson as the outside cornerbacks, and Cam Sutton in the slot, who signed with the club on Wednesday. That’s a massive upgrade from last year’s group.

Fitzpatrick is looking to have a bounce-back year after an injury-riddled season in 2023. It was also the first time in his career that he didn’t create a turnover. In 2022, Fitzpatrick was the NFL’s co-leader in interceptions with six. Fitzpatrick hopes to get back to his ball-hawking ways.

“Just let me play ball,” Fitzpatrick said at OTAs on Wednesday. “That’s it. Minkah ball.”

Fitzpatrick thinks the additions of Elliott, Jackson, Patrick Queen and Sutton will help him reach an All-Pro level again.

“As many great players as you could get in the field is going to help Minkah play Minkah ball,” Fitzpatrick said.

Minkah Fitzpatrick

Pittsburgh Steelers safett Minkah Fitzpatrick at OTAs on June 4, 2024. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

In particular, Elliott at strong safety should help Fitzpatrick tremendously, similar to what Terrell Edmunds provided. Fitzpatrick and Edmunds had a solid rapport. That kind of chemistry was missed with Edmunds departing Pittsburgh in free agency last year.

Fitzpatrick has been a regular at voluntary OTAs this year. It’s something he doesn’t have to attend, but he finds value in the team building process and mentoring young players.

“I’m not a dude that’s gonna put people in a headlock to do extra work. But a lot of young guys make it an effort and do what I’m doing,” Fitzpatrick said. “… I think it’s very important to show them how to be a professional.”

Football-wise, it makes sense that the Steelers brought Sutton back. He knows the defense and is an ideal fit in the slot. However, the off-the-field domestic violence legal issue makes many in the fanbase question the morality of the signing, and rightfully so. The charges against Sutton were originally felony but were reduced to a misdemeanor, and Sutton entered a pretrial diversion program.

Fitzpatrick casts no judgement on Sutton, however. He welcomed him back with open arms.

“We all have things we go through,” Fitzpatrick said when asked about the Sutton signing. “I think one of the best things about being in a locker room is that you have 52 other dudes that can help you get through whatever it is. We love Cam, he’s a great dude. We all have our flaws and our situations, but we’re gonna embrace him. Treat him like he never left.

Fitzpatrick thinks Sutton is piece that could bolster the defense to an elite unit. The slot position was one of the Steelers’ few weaknesses prior to the signing.

“He’s been in the system for a long time,” he said. “He’s been in the league for a long time. So he has experience, is a versatile player. (He can) play corner, can play nickel, can play dime and even safety if he had to. So he’s another chess piece to the chessboard for us.”

Nick Farabaugh provided reporting from Pittsburgh.