Steelers' Minkah Fitzpatrick Will Take Green Dot Duties In Week 14 If Valuable LB Can't Play - Sport News

Steelers’ Minkah Fitzpatrick Will Take Green Dot Duties In Week 14 If Valuable LB Can’t Play

The Pittsburgh Steelers have dealt with a plethora of injuries as of late. Particularly, Mike Tomlin’s crew has seen its linebacker depth all but evaporate in the matter of a few weeks. Cole Holcomb and Kwon Alexander were already lost for the season, and Elandon Roberts got hurt in Week 13. The veteran injured his groin and tried to come back in. Unfortunately, he ended up leaving the game once again in the loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Steelers' Minkah Fitzpatrick Will Take Green Dot Duties In Week 14 If Valuable LB Can't Play

As we know, groin injuries tend to linger. Now, his status for Thursday Night Football against the New England Patriots is up in the air. As a result, the Steelers need someone to replace his communication in the middle of the defense if he can’t play. Typically, the “green dot” duties are given to the middle linebacker. Tomlin told Bob Labriola of Steelers.com that star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick will actually shoulder those responsibilities if Roberts doesn’t play on Thursday night.

“You know, probably Minkah Fitzpatrick because he’s an all-circumstances player. With the other linebackers, we’re probably better served to cast a big net and utilize all of them in an effort to maximize performance. It might be a lack of conditioning or preparation from that perspective in the case of a Blake Martinez, who hasn’t been here a long time, or it might just be a lack of exposure from a guy like Mark Robinson, in terms of defensive snaps in the National Football League.”

As aforementioned, it’s unusual for a safety to shoulder the green dot responsibilities. At this point though, the Steelers’ linebacker room is quite unexperienced, at least in their tenures in Pittsburgh. When Roberts went down in Week 13, Mykal Walker took over those communication duties. It seemed to be too much for him, as he struggled with the adjustment. Roberts remains a game-time decision for Week 14, as he continues to deal with the groin injury.

In fact, Tomlin pointed out that Roberts’ injury led to the lack of communication from the middle of the defense. In past weeks, the head coach was pleased with how the defense had replaced injured starters. They are now down to their fourth linebacker though, and it’s important to remember that Walker has only been in Pittsburgh for a few weeks now. Fitzpatrick is dealing with an injury in his own regard. In the loss to the Cardinals, he broke his left hand.

Fortunately, the medical staff put a cast on his hand and he was able to finish out the game. He will play against the Patriots, albeit probably not at 100%. At this point in the season though, not many players are at full health anymore. Since the injuries to Alexander and Holcomb, Roberts has become a full-time member of the defense.

Where Would Steelers Defense Be Without Roberts In 2023?

Roberts stepped up in a big way in his first season in Pittsburgh and has proved to be worth every penny of the two-year, $7 million deal he signed in the offseason. Thankfully, the Steelers are going up against one of the worst defenses in the NFL in the Patriots. If Roberts is unable to go though, Walker will continue to play a ton of snaps. Beyond him, Myles Jack and/or Martinez will see the field.

Tomlin discussed these two veterans earlier this week as being key with the recent injuries. They have plenty of experience between the two of them, and in Jack’s case, he has familiarity with the system in Pittsburgh. Experience is something that the team valued when assessing who to sign amongst the free agent linebackers. The Steelers need Roberts’ presence, but they now have a backup plan if the groin injury holds him out in Week 14.

 

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