Fitzpatrick Trade Shows That Standard Remains

Steelers players excited to add safety to defense

Josh Rowntree
September 19, 2019 - 9:00 am

Jordan Berry might be punting for Pittsburgh but the Steelers, as a whole, are not ready to punt on the 2019-20 season. 

That message was sent to the team from general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin Monday night, when the team traded a first-round pick for Miami defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. 

Tomlin, on Tuesday, downplayed the significance of the move in terms of motivation for the rest of his players following the loss of Ben Roethlisberger to a season-ending elbow injury. 

“He don’t have to make a team meeting about it, we just know it,” center Maurkice Pouncey said. “When they make trades like that, the team’s not tanking. This organization and this team is all about winning.”

“I guess I was just as surprised as anyone else, because I didn’t know what was going on or what to expect,” safety Terrell Edmunds. “I was happy, for sure, because we’ve got another great guy back there in the defensive backfield.”

Fitzpatrick will take the spot of Sean Davis, who was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury following Sunday’s 28-26 loss to Seattle. It was likely the final snaps Davis, in the last year of his contract, will play in Pittsburgh.

Now that Fitzpatrick is here, getting him acclimated to the defense is the primary task for not only himself, but the rest of the team. And he has to do so in short order, with a game in San Francisco coming on Sunday. 

“Just constantly talk to him,” Edmunds said. “See what he may be confused about. Try to get him as comfortable as he can (be). He’s over-communicating in practice, trying his best to talk out loud for us.”

“I know it’s a short week for him, getting here yesterday,” defensive end Cam Heyward added. “I think he’s just trying to get incorporated as much as possible. We’re going to rely on him, sooner or later. We’ll need him to bring his best.”

Heyward, the defensive captain, was nearly asleep when he heard the news Monday night. It was the conclusion of an emotional day in which the team learned that Roethlisberger would not play agains this year. 

Some thought that the team would fold. But this move shows that the goal is still to win now. 

“The journey’s not over,” Heyward added. “Minkah’s capable of helping this team out. We don’t look forward to slowing down.”

One player that may benefit the most is slot cornerback Mike Hilton. While Fitzpatrick will play safety, he is also an excellent defender of slot receivers.

“He’s a versatile playmaker in the back end,” Hilton said. “You can put him in the box to make tackles, but he also has the ability to go get the ball and cause turnovers. He’s a guy we look forward to playing with and we know he’s going to have a lot of impact.”

Fitzpatrick’s departure from Miami comes with some controversy. He requested to leave after only playing in 13 career games, reportedly unhappy with how he was used in the Dolphins’ defense. But the nature of his exit from South Beach bothers the Steelers little. 

“As long as you can help out our team,” Heyward said. “You could’ve been a clown somewhere else, but as long as you play football here, I’m good.”

Hear more from Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton below.