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Upstart WR Set to Make Steelers Debut vs. Raiders



Steelers WR Dez Fitzpatrick
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick at training camp, Aug. 4, 2023 -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — The Steelers will get a look at a new wide receiver on Sunday. With Diontae Johnson on injured reserve and Gunner Olszewski ruled out with a concussion, that now opens the door for Titans castoff receiver Dez Fitzpatrick. Still a young player, Fitzpatrick was a fourth-round pick by the Titans but left the team following a rocky start to his career. That landed him in Pittsburgh, and he made the initial practice squad. But the team elevated him to the active roster when Johnson went down.

Fitzpatrick did not get a helmet against the Browns, as he is considered the WR6 in that role. Olszewski and Miles Boykin were elevated up the depth chart, but now Fitzpatrick can make some plays. Boykin can expect his role to grow more on Sunday as the team’s WR4.

Fitzpatrick appeared in 76 offensive snaps for the Steelers over three preseason games, seeing increased playing time as the preseason went on, but finished with zero catches on just two targets. A college star at Louisville, the Tennessee Titans selected Fitzpatrick with the 109th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Fitzpatrick was waived before his rookie season but re-signed with the Titans’ practice squad.

“I’ve been down this road before,” Fitzpatrick said. “I don’t need to see this or hear any praise. At this point, I’m so tunnel-visioned. Really, I can’t be worried about anything else other than winning the day, the play, the down, and trying to do it all over again. If it’s a bad day, down, or play, then I have put it in the back of my mind and keep chugging. From other teams, that’s what I’ve learned and experienced in the NFL.”

After Julio Jones was injured, Fitzpatrick was promoted to the team’s active roster. In four appearances, Fitzpatrick hauled in five of his eight receptions for 49 yards and one receiving touchdown. His first career touchdown came against the Houston Texans as he caught an 18-yard pass from Ryan Tannehill.

Fitzpatrick has played in five games over his first two seasons, totaling five catches, 49 receiving yards, and one touchdown. He joins Boykin, Johnson, Gunner Olszewski, Calvin Austin III, George Pickens, and Allen Robinson II on the active roster as a receiver. He can play as a gunner and be a vital special teams piece if they need him to do that.

That is precisely where Fitzpatrick will likely see the most run. But he had an impressive training camp on the outside, reeling in multiple touchdowns throughout training camp. The quarterbacks seemed impressed by him early on, including Mitch Trubisky, whom Fitzpatrick mainly worked with throughout the summer.

“You know, he’s a guy who at this point you give a chance to and he’s going out there and making plays,” Trubisky said. “Dez is a hard worker, a good guy, and so far, he’s making plays.”

He can show he can do it in a game setting with the Steelers now. That’s what most guys crave for whenever they get another opportunity like this, and the door has opened for Fitzpatrick to make an impact.