After more than a month on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury sustained against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 29, Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is poised to make a comeback this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. Expressing his confidence and physical well-being, Fitzpatrick assured reporters on Friday that he felt “great” and was ready to take the field.
This marks the first time Fitzpatrick has participated in full practice since the injury, emphasizing the cautious approach required for hamstring injuries. He acknowledged the delicate nature of such injuries, emphasizing the need to reach optimal physical condition before returning to the field, especially for a position like defensive back.
During his absence, Fitzpatrick took on the role of a vocal leader, actively engaging in the team’s strategies on game day. Notably, he played a crucial part in preventing a last-minute, game-winning touchdown by alerting coaches to a necessary defensive adjustment against the Green Bay Packers. Additionally, Fitzpatrick addressed a recent locker room altercation with wide receiver Diontae Johnson, describing it as part of the brotherhood dynamic within the team.
The Steelers, coping without Fitzpatrick for four games, relied on a mix of defensive backs to fill the void. In response to injuries sidelining safeties Keanu Neal and Elijah Riley, practice squad safety Trenton Thompson was signed to the 53-man roster, making a notable impact with an interception against the Cincinnati Bengals. Cornerback Patrick Peterson also stepped up, playing some snaps at safety.
Despite Fitzpatrick’s absence, the Steelers achieved a 3-1 record, showcasing the adaptability of the team. Over the past three weeks, the defense has demonstrated significant improvement, holding opponents to an average of 293.3 yards—considerably better than their season average of 354.4 yards. Additionally, the Steelers have excelled in run defense, limiting opponents to an impressive 79 rushing yards per game, ranking them among the top five in this category during this period.
Looking ahead, the return of Fitzpatrick is viewed as a crucial boost to the team’s defense. Cornerback Patrick Peterson expressed gratitude for having Fitzpatrick back at this pivotal juncture, citing his leadership, playmaking ability, and the energy he brings to each play. With the team trending in the right direction, Peterson believes Fitzpatrick’s return could elevate the Steelers to new heights as they pursue their common goal.