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Steelers Looking to Minimize Wear and Tear on Minkah Fitzpatrick in 2024

The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking to minimize the wear and tear on Minkah Fitzpatrick by getting him out of the box this season.

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Pittsburgh Steelers Minkah Fitzpatrick
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick during minicamp on June 11, 2024. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Minkah Fitzpatrick missed far too much of 2023 for the Pittsburgh Steelers to feel good about their chances at having the defense at full strength in 2024. Much of that was due to the wear and tear on Fitzpatrick as he played in the slot and box as a blitzer and run defender. And while Fitzpatrick can do all that, he is even better as a ballhawk center fielder. Damontae Kazee believes that the Steelers should see DeShon Elliott take on more of that role in the box and get Fitzpatrick out of there.

“It’s good because you need a big body in the box for the runs and stuff. Last year, the boy Mink[ah] [Fitzpatrick] got beat up there, so I think it’s a good deal that he’s up there,’ Kazee said to Chris Carter.

Minkah Fitzpatrick stated that he wanted to return to ‘Minkah Ball’ and that the signings and trades should allow him to do that. Elliott is the critical piece, but Kazee should also return to being a roaming center fielder. And with more speed on the outside in Donte Jackson, the team can move Fitzpatrick around as a chess piece rather than keep him stationary and closer to the box.

“To get him back to playing Minkah-Ball, as he would say, Minkah is at his best when he is playing back a bit deeper, seeing things, and able to go back and react because he sees the game really fast,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “And so, my job is to keep him back there as much as possible, and to keep him out of situations where he’s blitzing and doing that stuff. It’s not that he can’t, but he’s better doing the other things. That’s where the additions come in. You have other guys that are ready to handle some of those things that you know, he picked up last year. So, we’ll have other guys do those things and get back to where he is exceptional.”

With Elliott in the fold to take on the physical nature of the box safety role and guys like Patrick Queen and Jackson helping in other areas, they should have the right ingredients to let Fitzpatrick do as he wishes and terrorize opposing quarterbacks in 2024.