Minkah's ready to 'master the details'

After Minkah Fitzpatrick was traded to the Steelers following Week 2 of the 2019 season, Coach Mike Tomlin put it best saying the safety got 'On a moving train.'

Fitzpatrick was thrown right into the fire, getting a crash course on the defense, his teammates, the organization, the city, pretty much everything.

This offseason, that will all change for him.

After living life in fast-forward last year, Fitzpatrick is going to be able to slow things down tremendously when he takes part in the Steelers' offseason program, which kicks off later in April and runs through the team's OTAs, minicamp and then eventually goes into the next gear when they report to training camp.

The benefit of having an offseason with the team is something that is hard to measure because quite honestly, it's invaluable.

"It's beneficial in many different ways," said Fitzpatrick. "One way is I get to know my teammates better during that time. I get to know how they think, how they see things. Just form better relationships with them on and off the field. It will allow us to play more cohesive as a unit and play faster because we all know what each other is thinking. We all know what is going down.

"I got here after Week 2 and I was learning everything on the fly, didn't know anybody and was going with the wind. Having an offseason is going to be so beneficial. OTAs is a time for the team to get closer, get to know each other. It will be beneficial to us in the season."

Fitzpatrick had an uncanny ability to pick up the defense at the speed of light last year. Yes, there were times early on when things were coming at him fast, but he caught on faster than anyone could have expected. Now he will have months of prep time to take what he learned and improve on it.

"This offseason will allow me to master the details," said Fitzpatrick. "I learned the defense pretty fast and got it down pretty well when I got there. I spent a lot of time studying it. I think now I can master the details of the defense, learn what the linebackers are doing, what the front guys are doing. It's going to allow me to go out there and play faster, play quicker, play more instinctive, rather than go out there and guessing what people are doing.

"I didn't get to have an offseason with the Steelers yet. It's a great group of guys to be around in general. It's going to be great to dive into the team more, learn about each other more, do team activities and stuff like that. I am excited. It will be good to be back with my teammates."

The offseason will be something new for Fitzpatrick, but there is one thing that won't change…his jersey number. He will keep No. 39.

When Fitzpatrick was traded to the Steelers, the number he wore at Alabama, No. 29, wasn't available. Instead, he was given No. 39, something that didn't excite him, but he made a promise to himself.

"It's like what I did with No. 29," said Fitzpatrick. "When I got to Alabama, they just kind of gave me No. 29. I didn't want it. I thought it was an ugly number. Then I told myself if I have a freshman All-American year, I will keep it. And I did do that, so I kept No. 29 and it stuck with me into my first season in the NFL.

"I did the same thing with No. 39 when I got to Pittsburgh. I promised myself if it treats me well, if I make the Pro Bowl or All-Pro or whatever it may be, I am going to keep it."

Fitzpatrick did both. Pro Bowl selection, first-team Associated Press All-Pro, and a slew of other postseason honors.

"I did those things," said Fitzpatrick, "so I am going to stick with it. I'm keeping No. 39."


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