Minkah Fitzpatrick had an emergency appendectomy just before the Steelers game against the Saints, but he could make his return much sooner than expected.
Things were looking positive from a health standpoint for the Pittsburgh Steelers during the bye week. Though several players showed up on the Week 10 injury report, none of their injuries were believed to be serious, and the team was getting set for the return of T.J. Watt and Damontae Kazee. However, Mike Tomlin was hit with a bombshell less than 24 hours before kickoff.
Entering a must-win game against the New Orleans Saints, the Steelers discovered that they would be without two-time All-Pro safety, Minkah Fitzpatrick. Pittsburgh’s star in the secondary underwent emergency appendectomy surgery just before the game. Fortunately, the Steelers were able to pull off the home victory, despite his absence.
Early reports from ESPN’s Adam Schefter indicated that the Pro Bowl safety was expected to be out multiple weeks after his surgery. However, the latest word from Mike Tomlin suggests that Minkah could return much sooner. In fact, the Steelers head coach seemed to be optimistic about Fitzpatrick’s chances of playing this week, according to statements from his press conference.
Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted that Fitzpatrick said he wanted to play this past Sunday against the Saints (though we know he would have never gotten clearance to play just hours after having an organ removed).
Steelers safety could make a difference vs Bengals if he plays
The most recent report is overwhelmingly encouraging. While the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to defeat the Bengals on the road in Week 1, it required 7 sacks and 5 total takeaways in an overtime victory to accomplish this feat. A win wouldn’t have been possible without Minkah out there. He was not only the player of the game for this team, but his 14 tackles and pick-six helped the Steelers eventually secure a nail-biter in Week 1, via ESPN stats.
This time around, Cincinnati is once again favored, and the Steelers will be home underdogs. Even if star WR Ja’Marr Chase doesn’t play, the Bengals have a high-powered passing offense coming off a 42-point showing on the road. Fitzpatrick’s presence would certainly help slow down Joe Burrow and company.
We will monitor Fitzpatrick’s involvement during practice throughout the week, but things are certainly looking up, and Minkah’s presence could help boost Pittsburgh’s chances of emerging victorious in their second straight week. At 3-6, Tomlin knows what’s on the line here. If Fitzpatrick is ready, he’s going to play.