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Rookie RB Calls Out Minkah Fitzpatrick at Steelers OTAs



Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick

PITTSBURGH — In practice on Thursday, Steelers rookie running back Alfonzo Graham wanted to make a name for himself. So, he decided before a mock tackling drill on Thursday that he would go out there and call out Minkah Fitzpatrick. But it didn’t go the way he planned it.

Graham confirmed that he called out Fitzpatrick and wanted to show a little something. Part of it was to compete, but a bigger part was to learn what he needed to learn to get to that level that Fitzpatrick is currently on. So, it was the undrafted free agent against the three-time All-Pro safety.

However, what happened next gave Graham a welcome to the NFL moment. Attempting to juke out Fitzpatrick, Fitzpatrick stood his ground and stunned Graham. A move that Graham had put on tape at Morgan State and that worked against everyone he ever went up against was stifled.

“We aren’t in pads, but now I see the level I have to be at,” Graham said. “I thought I could juke him, and I couldn’t. That’s the same move I’ve used my entire career. But when someone like that is a vet and knows the game, he knew what was coming. He’s not going to let me do that. That’s just something I learned really quickly. This level is different.”

You can call it a welcome to the NFL moment, but Graham was not scared and is still not scared. In fact, the next time the team does it, he plans to do it all over again. For a player who got his contract just off a rookie minicamp deal, Graham is showing absolutely no fear.

“That was definitely my welcome to the NFL moment,” Graham said. “But I want to compete and be against the best. There’s not fear there. I want to see the level I have to get to play a long time in this league.”

Jaylen Warren even said that he would not do it right now. Calling out Fitzpatrick like that earns the respect of teammates around the locker room. It’s a move that few players would do let alone an undrafted free agent. But Graham wants everyone in the Steelers building to know the name Alfonzo Graham. It might not have worked out the way he wanted to but it’s a learning lesson that’s invaluable.

“This stuff is just in me,” Graham said. “That’s just me. I have no fear. I want to go up against the competition, the guy that is the best. He’s handling his business and I want to see where my iron has to be so I can sharpen it. It doesn’t matter to me. I want my name to be out there. You know how everyone knows Minkah Fitzpatrick and T.J. Watt? That’s how I want to be when they say Alfonzo Graham’s name. Going up against the best is how you do that.”

So, Graham will look to make a name for himself and try to make the roster in the running back room. Fitzpatrick will continue to be a silent veteran that is earning All-Pro honors. But if there’s one thing that can be taken away from it, it’s that Graham is consistently trying to prove himself.

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