5 players the Steelers can least afford to get injured in 2023

Steelers, T.J. Watt
Steelers, T.J. Watt / Rob Carr/GettyImages
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Injuries are just a part of the game in the NFL. Players know what's on the line when they sign up to play this game professionally, and as much as the league is trying to make the game as safe as possible, sometimes major injuries are unavoidable. This is something that most long-term players will go through at some point or another in their playing careers, and the Pittsburgh Steelers realized just how devastating a single injury can be when T.J. Watt went down in 2022.

Obviously, Pittsburgh will do its best to avoid the injury bug in 2023, but sometimes it can bite hard and unexpectedly. The question then becomes: How can the Steelers overcome adversity and remain competitive?

This is easier said than done when it comes to missing star players for long periods of time. It certainly looks like Mike Tomlin's team could be even more competitive this year than it has been in recent seasons, but here are five Pittsburgh Steelers players who can least afford to get injured, for the team's sake.

5. Minkah Fitzpatrick, S

On a spectrum, the safety position isn't as important as many others in the NFL, but when you have one of the best in the business in a player like Minkah Fitzpatrick, he suddenly becomes one of the most important players on the team. Thanks to his spectacular awareness, range, and ball skills, Fitzpatrick forces quarterbacks to account for him.

If they lose track of the three-time All-Pro safety for just a minute, Minkah can make them pay. Last year might have been the best one yet for Fitzpatrick. Despite missing two games due to an emergency appendectomy, Minkah tied for the league lead with six interceptions and did his best to keep the defense afloat with T.J. Watt absent.

What makes a potential Fitzpatrick absence so concerning is the depth at the safety position. Damontae Kazee is a solid player when healthy, but both he and Keanu Neal have extensive injuries that include multiple stints on IR in recent years.

Additionally, the safety position instantly gets much worse if you have to ask Kazee and Neal to both be full-time starters at this stage in their careers. Minkah is the engine that makes the secondary run and he's a big reason why the Steelers are typically always one of the best teams at intercepting the football in recent years. If you take that away, you remove most of the splash play-making ability from the secondary.