The Pittsburgh Steelers have ruled free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick out for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints with an appendix issue. Fitzpatrick had been a full participant in the team’s practices all week and was not listed on the squad’s injury report on Friday.
Appendicitis occurs when the appendix becomes inflamed or infect and can impact anyone at any time. Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow had surgery before the season after his appendix ruptured. The extent of Fitzpatrick’s issue at the point is not known, but if he requires surgery, he could miss several weeks.
A two-time All Pro at safety, Fitzpatrick has started 53 games for the Steelers since joining the club on a mid-season trade from the Miami Dolphins in 2019. This season, he is second on the Steelers with 45 tackles and second with six passes defended. He also has a team-high three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. Fitzpatrick also had a game-saving blocked extra point in the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Safety Damontae Kazee is expected to make his 2022 debut after breaking his forearm in the preseason and is the most likely candidate to start in place of Fitzpatrick. Kazee has been a starter for the last four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys. He joined the Steelers on a one-year free agent contract this offseason.
Second-year defensive back Tre Norwood would be the other likely option. Norwood started two games earlier this season when Fitzpatrick and strong safety Terrell Edmunds each missed a game while Kazee was injured.
Backup strong safety and special teamer Miles Killebrew is the only other safety on the active roster.
The Steelers elevated safety Elijah Riley from the practice squad for Sunday’s game. Riley has played one game with the steelers this season, in their Week 6 win over Tampa Bay. He made one tackle.