PITTSBURGH — All-Pro Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick has a chance to return to the field this Sunday after missing his team’s Week 9 game with a hamstring injury, head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday.
Fitzpatrick suffered the right hamstring injury during his team’s Week 8 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and with the Steelers facing Tennessee on Thursday Night Football the following week, he was quickly ruled out against the Titans.
But now with additional time off between games, Tomlin said there’s a chance that his starting safety could rejoin the team when the Steelers take the field against the Green Bay Packers at Acrisure Stadium in Week 10 this Sunday.
“Minkah is improving,” Tomlin said. “We’ll see what the week holds for him and see if there’s a potential for availability in the latter part of the week.”
Even without playing on Thursday, Fitzpatrick is tied for the Steelers lead with 54 tackles. He also has two passes defended, but has not been able to have the same kind of success in finding splash plays as he did in 2022, when he tied for the NFL lead in interceptions.
Damontae Kazee moved from strong safety to free safety in order to replace Fitzpatrick. He had four tackles against the Titans. Keanu Neal, who had been sharing time with Kazee at strong safety, stepped into a full-time role. He played over 60 snaps for the second consecutive week.
The Steelers also reconfigured their sub packages with Fitzpatrick out this week, playing Patrick Peterson in the slot more in Nickel and Dime packages and using rookie cornerback Darius Rush as the sixth defensive back in the Dime, instead of using a third safety.
That may not change even when Fitzpatrick returns, as inside linebacker Cole Holcomb is out for the season, and the Steelers may want to use Neal as the Dime linebacker to take up some of the slack and keep Kwon Alexander and Elandon Roberts from being overloaded.