Minkah Fitzpatrick: 'Anchor me down' at one position

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  • By Adam Maya NFL.com
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In Miami, Minkah Fitzpatrick was playing everywhere in the secondary for a team going nowhere. Relocating to Pittsburgh could provide a change on both fronts.

Days after being dealt from the Dolphins to the Steelrs, Fitzpatrick is preparing to suit up for a Week 3 game against the 49ers. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin he would use the second-year defensive back exclusively at free safety.

It had to be music to Fitzpatrick's ears.

"I think right now it's important to anchor me down because I'm learning an entirely new system," Fitzpatrick said, per the Associated Press. "Once I learn the system more, I'll be able to move around a little bit. It's part of my game. It's one of the reasons they wanted me around."

It's also one of the reasons he wanted out of Miami. After requesting he be used primarily at one spot this year, Fitzpatrick (6-foot-1, 207 pounds) played safety, linebacker, and nickel corner in the season opener. Last year he saw time at both safety spots, as well as nickel and outside corner.

He arrives in Pittsburgh at an opportune time. The Steelers are 0-2 for the first time in six years and just lost safety Sean Davis for an extended period with a torn labrum. The 22-year-old Fitzpatrick is coming off a promising rookie season and could provide a needed jolt to a struggling Steelers defense.

"The main thing to me is just doing my job, communicating with my teammates," Fitzpatrick said. "And with that will come big plays. ... Just got to learn and simplify the game so I can go out there and play fast. A lot of it is word association."

Perhaps he'll help change the words currently associated with the Steel Curtain. Only three teams have allowed more yards through two games, and only four have surrendered more points. That's likely why, in the midst of a franchise reshuffle, Pittsburgh was so aggressive in acquiring Fitzpatrick.

The team was said to covet him leading up to the 2018 draft, only its first pick was 17 slots after he came off the board. With Fitzpatrick available amid a Dolphins fire sale, Pittsburgh didn't hesitate to offer its first pick of the 2020 draft to get him.

Mind you, the Steelers hadn't traded their first-round pick since 1967.

"It's an honor that they did that," he said. "It means that they think very highly of me. Like I said, I'm excited by it, and I've just got to work to fulfill everything that they think I can be."

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