PITTSBURGH — The Steelers had a concerning injury report on Wednesday, with Damontae Kazee and Minkah Fitzpatrick both off to the side and out of practice. That left the team down to four safeties between the practice squad and the active roster if they could not go.
Fitzpatrick, who has fought a chest contusion, said he will play on Sunday against the Raiders. While dealing with a calf injury, Kazee seems on track to play as well. It’s a scare for a team that needs all the depth it can have in its secondary, and neither player missing time would be suitable for a group that has to work out many early-season struggles, including communication.
Fitzpatrick left the game against Cleveland in the third quarter after making a tackle against Browns running back Jerome Ford. He was seen vomiting on the sideline, and walked to the locker room under his own power. Kazee played the entire game but popped on the report Wednesday.
Fitzpatrick is a three-time All-Pro and one of the least replaceable members of a Steelers defense that will already be without defensive captain and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Cam Heyward for seven more weeks.
The Steelers need Fitzpatrick for the defense to turn things around, especially in the run game. When it comes down to it, tackling remains the biggest obstacle for the Steelers on the ground to stopping the explosive runs. It won’t get much easier with Josh Jacobs coming into the fold now.