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Minkah Fitzpatrick Feels Added Responsibility As NFL’s Highest-Paid Safety

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Fitzpatrick led all defensive backs in tackles last season (124), but he was upset by the Steelers’ overall defensive performance. They led the NFL in sacks (55) but finished twenty fifth in overall defense and last in rushing defense, and Fitzpatrick said he was “embarrassed” by Pittsburgh’s 42-21 playoff loss to the Chiefs.

To Fitzpatrick, being the top-paid safety brings added responsibility to steer Pittsburgh’s defense back to prominence.

“Last 12 months was to not our standards in any respect,” Fitzpatrick said via Bryan DeArdo of CBSSports.com. “I do know myself, T.J. (Watt), Cam (Heyward), all of us weren’t comfortable or pleased in any respect with the way in which the season ended. Especially in that playoff game, [it] was a humiliation, truthfully. Not our typical selves. That is what motivates us.

“Obviously, the cash is a blessing and creates opportunity for everyone and our families. Now, it’s my duty to exit and play at a high level and show them that I deserve this compensation.”

Fitzpatrick was impressed with rookie defensive end DeMarvin Leal during minicamp and thinks the Steelers made a key addition adding free agent inside linebacker Myles Jack. Pittsburgh is preparing for a recent era after the retirement of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but Fitzpatrick believes the defense can carry a heavier load if obligatory.

“I’m really excited,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m enthusiastic about Levi. I’m enthusiastic about Myles. We drafted well within the front. I feel we have now a young but experienced defense. We have older guys who’re great at coaching and getting the brand new guys able to play. We will need some recent faces to step up. I’m very enthusiastic about this upcoming season.”

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