Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick to play vs. Bills

For the first time since Week 15, Minkah Fitzpatrick practiced fully.

The Pittsburgh Steelers safety missed three games after injuring his knee, but he is expected to return to the field this weekend when the Steelers travel to Upstate New York to face the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

"I think it's good anytime you get one of your best players back in the fold," Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin told ESPN. "He's a major communicator back there and does a lot of things for us, so I'm excited to have him back."

Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (39) warms up before an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Matt Durisko)
Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is set to play vs. the Buffalo Bills during the opening round of the playoffs. (AP Photo/Matt Durisko)

Fitzpatrick will be playing with his defensive backfield mate, safety Damontae Kazee, who is returning from a three-game suspension after repeated player safety violations.

Pittsburgh elected to hold Fitzpatrick out of its season finale against the Baltimore Ravens out of extreme caution because the medical staff didn't feel he was completely ready to return.

"I wasn't 110 [percent], and they kind of made a decision to sit me down," Fitzpatrick, who was voted to the Pro Bowl, said. "It is a knee [injury]. I don't want me to go out there and make it 10 times worse. ... I think I could have played. I always think that, but they made an executive decision to sit me down."

The return of the the Steelers' top two safeties can't be understated as the team prepares for Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who has a knack for creating big plays with his arm.

The visitors will be without NFL sack leader T.J. Watt, who suffered a sprained MCL versus the Ravens. To that end, Austin will have his work cut out for him trying to disrupt Allen and Buffalo's offense.

Fitzpatrick doesn't doubt the defense's ability to step up and cover for the loss of Watt.

"Obviously, we're upset T.J.'s not out there with us, but we still got a job to do and having most of our pieces back is big for us," Fitzpatrick said. "We get to do more, we get to be more fluid, have chemistry. And so, I think we're in a good place."