The leader the Steelers need right now is Minkah Fitzpatrick.

The leader the Steelers need right now is Minkah Fitzpatrick.

In Pittsburgh On a steamy August day at Saint Vincent College, more than 45 minutes had passed after practice ended, but Minkah Fitzpatrick was still there.

The Pittsburgh Steelers safety still had work to do after the training camp's on-field portion that day. Together with a staff member, he worked methodically to catch dozens of balls at various angles.

Grady Brown, the defensive backs coach, frequently repeats the phrase "We are receivers as DBs. Fitzpatrick continued, sweat trickling as he gathered his breath, "We have to have a 100% catch rate, yet we catch almost 100% less throws than what the receiver catches.

Fitzpatrick will need to be a focal point as a leader and a ball hawk, producing the kind of splash plays to infuse the defense with contagious energy, if the Steelers are to survive at least a month without Watt, including Thursday night's game against the Cleveland Browns (8:15 p.m. ET, Prime Video).

During training camp, coach Mike Tomlin remarked, "Minkah is a serious competitor." He always wants to join. He desires to defend receivers. Running backs are who he wants to tackle. He desires a blitz. A football player, he is. He is a football-mad man. He's a competitive guy who, boy, is just a great guy to have around in a situation like this because he never has a bad day. Always, he

The receiver should make as many catches as possible, whether they are straight on, distracted, or both at once.

During training camp, Teryl Austin, the defensive coordinator, observed, "Guys like him, they want to be great." "They aim to triumph in every game. More than many other folks I've ever seen, he perceives the game quickly. The best person I've ever had the opportunity to work with was Ed Reed. (In 2011–12, Austin served as Reed's position coach with the Ravens.) More quickly than anyone I've ever played with back then, he understood the game.

It's a special quality, and those guys are amazing because of it. We simply need to get him back to making turnovers.

Fitzpatrick is doing just that after two games.

Fitzpatrick read Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow on the second defensive play of the year and jumped in front of receiver Tyler Boyd. For a pick-six, Fitzpatrick recovered the ball and returned it 31 yards to the end zone. Then, as time was out, he blocked an effort at an extra point to force overtime. He induced Mac Jones to throw over the middle to DeVante Parker against the Patriots since Parker appeared to be far better suited up against inside linebacker Robert Spillane. In an instant, Fitzpatrick launched himself in the direction of Parker to seize Jones' pass.

Fitzpatrick's versatility and ability to play in all areas of the field contribute to his threat on the field. In Miami, he originally rejected it, but he discovered he was most comfortable with it.

When others are aware of where I am, Fitzpatrick claimed, "I feel like they either decide not to go there or they plot something against me." However, I believe that moving me about to put me in various spots will give the offense a new look. I'm not saying this on every play.

Fitzpatrick is a playmaker who exudes energy on the field, but in the locker room, he is quiet. Although Fitzpatrick is one of the team's most active trash talkers, he keeps to himself when going about his daily activities.

Running back Najee Harris, who has known Fitzpatrick since he was 18 and was his teammate at Alabama, claimed that Fitzpatrick "usually comes in with his suitcase and his notebooks ready to write." He's just incredibly nice,

Fitzpatrick stays late at work because he considers himself to be a competitive and perfectionist. Even workaholic Harris agreed that Fitzpatrick's dedication to his art is what most stands out about him.

Being a perfectionist on the football field is not a negative thing, according to Fitzpatrick. "I believe I get knowledge through my errors. I don't ruminate about them.

I've always been that way, but I've also received coaching to be that way. Because I hold myself to a high level, people hold me to a high standard as well. And they checked me on anything less than that.

Even though he wasn't formally elected captain, that combination makes him a natural leader. Fitzpatrick and cornerback Levi Wallace were teammates at Alabama, and Wallace is one

Whether he walks out there for a coin toss or not, everyone on the squad is aware that he is one of the leaders. We are aware of who he is and his contributions to the squad. He does not need to speak much because of the way he leads. It concerns his behavior. All you need is a person like that who always pushes you without even trying. Because he is working so hard, you want to work harder.

Right now, the objective is to contribute to bridging Watt's gap. But if he keeps up his current form, Fitzpatrick might be in contention for a significant individual award.

"Great players are going to play well on the field," defender Terrell.