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Minkah Fitzpatrick Looking Forward to Seeing Growth of Tre Norwood in Year 2

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The Steelers 2021 draft class certainly got their work throughout the 2021 season. With just about every rookie playing some significant time, the Steelers got a gaze into who they have as potential building blocks in their future.

However, the most surprising of those contributors were seventh-round rookie Tre Norwood.

Coming in during the Steelers’ dime packages as the slot cornerback, Norwood made a number of key plays this season. That was not just later in the year, either. Norwood came out in the Buffalo game in Week 1 and had a significant impact on Pittsburgh’s ability to pull off that massive upset on the road.

Norwood was beaten by Kansas City All Pro tight end Travis Kelce in the playoff game for a touchdown, but the fact that he was put in that position shows the faith that the coaching staff has in his ability as a young player.

Norwood was guided by veterans Minks Fitzpatrick and Cam Sutton to the finish line of his rookie year. For Fitzpatrick, the brightness of Norwood’s star was apparent right from the beginning.

“Tre is a guy that I am really excited about,” Fitzpatrick said. “He’s a guy who came in right away and you could tell he had an IQ for the game, you could tell he loved the game, that’s the most important thing. And he’s very, very coachable. Whenever I was in the game or on the field in practice I was looking at him to make sure he’s (doing his job as) the second free safety – that was his designated role when he got in.

“So I tried to coach him up and make sure he was trimmed and groomed right away. And then he moved down into the slot and Cam Sutton kind of took him under his wing there – and he’s performing like he’s performing. He’s stepped up, really, every single week. Making some really big plays on third downs, nig plays on fourth downs, stepping up in his special-teams roles. And I feel like he’s a guy who’s definitely going to be really, really beneficial for us in the future. He has nothing but a bright future ahead of him.”

Norwood’s apprenticeship under Fitzpatrick may be the most impactful part of his entire rookie season. Keeping a guy who was a seventh-round pick up to speed and going is hard to do. Still, Fitzpatrick’s off-the-field leadership has proven to be just as valuable as his on-the-field contributions since his arrival in Pittsburgh.

“It’s an understatement to say Minkah’s mentorship helped me,” Norwood said. “Anytime I had a question, he would answer it. Anything I saw on film, I could ask about. If there was something that went wrong on the field, he would help me fix it. I could text him about anything. Getting to learn from a Pro Bowler and All-Pro, as I said, it would be an understatement to say he was hugely helpful.”

It is interesting to see where Norwood may slot into this group in 2022. He was drafted to be a backup free safety and started there when Fitzpatrick missed time. However, the majority of his opportunities were in the slot. Still, the swiss army knife of the Steelers is likely to see even more snaps in 2022, with his role potentially growing.

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