(Another in a series examining the Steelers' 90-man roster as the team heads to training camp to begin the process of cutting down to 53 players in advance of the 2020 regular season.)
ON THE ROSTER NOW: Marcus Allen, John Battle, Antoine Brooks, Jordan Dangerfield, Terrell Edmunds, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Tyree Kinnel.
ON THE ROSTER IN SEPTEMBER: Mike Tomlin had four safeties on last year's initial 53-man roster and six on the initial 53-man roster in 2018. It always depends on special-teamers. As mentioned in the preview for the cornerback position, six of them could make it, so that means the prediction here is four safeties make it.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT: Since obtaining Fitzpatrick after Game 2 last season, the Steelers' defensive passer rating was 68.1, which, had it been the full season, would've been the best since the 63.4 defensive passer rating in 2008. In the 16 games of the 2018 season, plus the first two games of 2019, the defensive passer rating was 97.0. The highest defensive passer rating in team history was 98.3 in 2014.
KEY DEPARTURES: Sean Davis was a three-year starter but was injured in last year's training camp and the team traded for Fitzpatrick. Davis ventured into the free agent market and signed a one-year contract with hometown Washington. Davis' initial replacement, Kameron Kelly, lost his job to Fitzpatrick, played mainly special teams through Game 14, and was released after a legal incident.
KEY ADDITIONS: Brooks was drafted in the sixth round out of Maryland. He was primarily a box safety with the Terps and weighed 215 pounds at the NFL Combine. Kinnel, out of the XFL, is a free safety who was highly recruited by Michigan, became a special teams ace there, and then a captain before spending training camp with the Bengals last August. Battle played both safety spots at LSU but is more of a strong safety. He also went undrafted last season and spent the year on the Tampa Bay practice squad.
THE SKINNY: Dick LeBeau said he struggled at times in deciding how best to use Troy Polamalu, only because Polamalu did everything so well. It's a wonderful problem to have, and the coaching staff probably is asking itself some of those same questions with Fitzpatrick. Again, it's a wonderful problem. Edmunds is an aggressive and athletic former first-rounder, who, if his coverage skills are what the team expects them to be, will allow for a full utilization of Fitzpatrick.