PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick took a step forward in his rehab, warming up with his teammates before practice on Friday for the first time since he suffered a left knee injury two weeks ago.
Fitzpatrick did not practice in either of the team’s first two practice sessions of the week on Wednesday and Thursday, and the club has not yet announced his participation for Friday, but not being dressed in uniform is a sign that he likely missed practice for the third straight day. That will likely rule Fitzpatrick out for the second straight week when the Steelers visit the Seattle Seahawks for a must-win game this Sunday, but the fact that he is progressing in his rehab, and able to at least jog and move on his injured knee, leaves some room for optimism that Fitzpatrick could return for the season finale against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 18.
Of course, the Steelers will need to win another game without Fitzpatrick in order to make that game meaningful. Patrick Peterson moved from cornerback to safety to replace Fitzpatrick after he was injured on Dec. 16 against the Indianapolis Colts. Eric Rowe made his first start of the season and his Steelers debut last Saturday against the Cincinnati Bengals at strong safety. In addition to Fitzpatrick’s injury, Damontae Kazee is suspended for the rest of the regular season, Keanu Neal is out with a rib injury and Trenton Thompson has yet to return from a stinger also suffered against the Colts. Thompson was a full participant in Thursday’s practice, and his status for the Seahawks game will be monitored.
The knee is the third significant injury of the season for Fitzpatrick. He missed time earlier this year with a hamstring injury and incredibly played through a broken hand suffered on Dec. 2 against Arizona.