PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without safety Minkah Fitzpatrick for at least another week, head coach Mike Tomlin said on Monday.
Speaking ahead of the team’s Week 9 home game against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football, Tomlin said that Fitzpatrick has already been ruled out of this week’s game.
Fitzpatrick suffered what appeared to be a non-contact right hamstring injury during the Steelers’ 20-10 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday and was quickly ruled out of returning to that game. Him also quickly being ruled out for Thursday — while Tomlin left the door open to a return for quarterback Kenny Pickett — seems to suggest that he could be facing a medium-term absence, though Tomlin did not offer a prognosis for his star safety.
“I don’t have additional information in terms of time of that injury, but it’s safe to say he’s not going to be available to us on a short week,” Tomlin said.
The Steelers replaced Fitzpatrick with Damontae Kazee moving from strong safety to free safety and Keanu Neal, who usually splits time with Kazee, moving up into a full-time role. When the team went into its three-safety look, veteran special teams captain Miles Killebrew filled in.
Tomlin said after the game that the team didn’t feel that it had to make changes schematically to deal with Fitzpatrick’s absence. Fitzpatrick has been playing more in the slot this year than he has in the past. The three-time All-Pro led the NFL in interceptions in 2022.
“Obviously, the loss of Minkah is a significant one,” Tomlin said. “It is a multi-man job, not a one man job. Thankfully, we have some veterans back there like Killebrew, Kazee and Keanu Neal who are veteran NFL players and that lessens the impact, hopefully. But obviously, it’s not a one-man job when you’re talking about replacing Minkah, whether you’re talking about his playmaking ability or as a hub of communication.”
In addition to Killebrew, Elijah Riley is on the roster as a depth option at safety and has played well when called up. Trenton Thompson is the lone safety on the practice squad.