Pittsburgh Steelers starting safety Minkah Fitzpatrick showed up for the team’s annual training camp in Latrobe, PA. He hasn’t practiced, however, as he continues to work through a personal matter. Steelers beat reporter Nick Farabaugh noted his continued absence on Thursday, and HC Mike Tomlin has declined to comment on a potential timeline for return, noting that his absence is excused and he “has my full support”.
Fitzpatrick’s excused absence has opened up some opportunities for those further down the depth chart to see more time with the first-team defense. Unfortunately, Damontae Kazee, who may have benefited the most from these reps, is considered “week-to-week” after suffering an ankle injury on Day 3 with hopes of returning by Week 1.
Then there’s Keanu Neal, who signed a two-year deal with the Steelers in free agency, named on the team’s injury report Wednesday following practice. He remained out on Thursday, though the nature of his injury hasn’t been disclosed.
And then, there was Kenny Robinson...
This will be a big opportunity for backup safety Kenny Robinson to make his mark and work his way up the depth chart. Surely, the local product out of Wilkinsburg, just under 10 miles out from Pittsburgh’s city center, will have all the opportunity in the world to become the new hometown hero with the opportunity.
Robinson, now 24, was selected in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers after a brief stint in the XFL playing for the St. Louis Battlehawks. This made him first XFL player ever to be drafted into the NFL. Since being drafted, Robinson had spent time bouncing between the Panthers active roster and practice squad before signing a reserve/futures contract with the Steelers in January of 2023. The rest, as they say, is history.
Robinson was active for 19 total games with the Panthers through the 2020 and 2021 seasons, totaling 18 tackles on defense. His lone NFL touchdown came in Week 6 of the 2021 season, where he returned a blocked punt against the Minnesota Vikings.
Robinson has generally received positive reports through training camp so far, having been credited with a number of big plays and several interceptions in Week 1. He’s the guy to watch, and certainly, the one with the most to gain with his newfound opportunity.