90 In 30: Steelers 2023 Training Camp Preview Series: Breiden Fehoko, Dez Fitzpatrick, Minkah Fitzpatrick

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2023 offseason practices concluded in the middle of June and next up is their annual training camp, which gets underway in late July at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe. Ahead of training camp, we will preview the team’s offseason roster three players at a time for you as part of a 30-post series. This Steelers roster preview, which includes outlooks for every player, will be done alphabetically by last name to make it easy to follow.

The next three players we will preview ahead of Steelers 2023 training camp are Breiden Fehoko, Dez Fitzpatrick, and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

DT Breiden Fehoko: Listed at 6026, 310-pounds ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft, Fehoko played his college ball at Texas Tech and LSU. After going undrafted in 2020, Fehoko signed with the Los Angeles Chargers, and he had been with them until this past offseason when he was not restricted tendered. To date, Fehoko has appeared in 19 games, starting four and logging 420 career defensive snaps. In 2022, he recorded 23 tackles, including one for a loss. He does not have an NFL sack to date. The Steelers signed Fehoko to a one-year contract for the minimum back in late March.

Outlook: On the surface it seems that Fehoko has a very strong shot at making the Steelers’ 53-man roster later this summer. He’s best suited to play inside as a nose tackle in the defense’s 3-4 base personal grouping. With rookie defensive tackle Keeanu Benton now in the fold, Fehoko will likely battle with him during the summer for the right to be team’s starting interior plugger for Week 1. Even if Fehoko were to be the Week 1 starter inside, it would only be a matter of time before he’s overtaken by Benton in 2023.

As far as other serious competition that Fehoko should face this summer, that should come in the form of defensive tackle Montravius Adams, who was the Steelers starter inside last season.

WR Dez Fitzpatrick: After being selected in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans out of Louisville, Fitzpatrick has only seen extremely limited playing time in the NFL in his first two seasons. To date, he has logged just 104 offensive snaps since being drafted and nine more on special teams. He has just five total receptions for 49 yards on eight total targets since 2021. Most of his two NFL seasons have been spent on the practice squad of the Titans. The Steelers signed Fitzpatrick to a Reserve/Future contract back in January.

Outlook: While Fitzpatrick has mid-round draft pedigree, it’s apparent that he was over-drafted initially. Now with the Steelers, Fitzpatrick will have his work cut out for him when it comes to him sticking around in Pittsburgh once the final cutdown to 53 active players is done. Fitzpatrick doesn’t have much in the way of a special teams resume and that will also hurt his summer cause unless he strengthens it significantly. In summation, it’s practice squad or bust for this Fitzpatrick later this summer.

S Minkah Fitzpatrick: 2022 was another fine season for Fitzpatrick and it ended with him once again being a First-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection. As part of Fitzpatrick’s fine 2022 season, he registered six interceptions and 11 passes defensed to go along with 96 total tackles. He registered those stats in just 15 regular season games as he missed two others, one due to a concussion and one due to an appendicitis. He missed very few defensive snaps in the 15 regular season games that he suited up for in 2022.

Outlook: It’s easy to write a season outlook for a player such as Fitzpatrick and that’s because he is one of the best at his position in the NFL. Quite honestly, Fitzpatrick should be expected to have yet another All-Pro season in 2023. Statistically, it’s hard to imagine Fitzpatrick not registering at least four more interceptions in 2023 in addition to another 80 total tackles. Fitzpatrick quickly became one of the best free safeties that the Steelers have ever had.

Assuming he stays healthy in 2023, Fitzpatrick should be able to register yet another great season as a result of him playing tied to the deep post along with down low in the middle of the field as part of a robber role rotation.

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