As they begin training camp, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be without starting free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick will start camp on the non-football injury list after hurting his wrist on vacation, coach Mike Tomlin said to the media on Tuesday. The injury to Fitzpatrick, who according to Tomlin sustained the injury after falling off of his bike, is not considered long-term.
Fitzpatrick, 25, is fresh off of signing a new contract which will include $73.6 million and $36 million guaranteed with an $18.4 million annual salary, making him the NFL's highest-paid safety.
Fitzpatrick has been one of the league's top players since moving to Pittsburgh from Miami in 2019. The 11th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Fitzpatrick earned All-Pro honors in each of his first two seasons with the Steelers. He tallied five interceptions, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and and two defensive scores in 2019, his first season in Pittsburgh. He had four picks and his third career pick-six in 2020 while helping the Steelers win the AFC North division crown.
Last season, Fitzpatrick was often asked to help mask the Steelers' deficiencies in the front seven. While that led to a dip in interceptions, Fitzpatrick recorded a career-high 129 tackles, 45 more than he had in the same amount of games in 2020. His presence helped the Steelers make the playoffs following a 1-3 start.
Fitzpatrick and Watt are part of Pittsburgh's defensive core that also includes reigning Defensive Player of the year T.J. Watt, and defensive lineman Cam Heyward, a five-time Pro Bowler and the team's longest-tenured player. The Steelers' defense will include several new pieces this season that includes former Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack and former Bills cornerback Levi Wallace.
Tomlin also stated on Tuesday that defensive lineman Tyson Alualu, who missed most of last season with an injury, will start camp on the team's PUP list with a swollen knee. Tomlin also said that the team will be cautious with fellow defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi, who was signed by the team several months after undergoing surgery on his foot.