During a recent Steelers practice, Minkah Fitzpatrick went against wideout George Pickens in one-on-one drills. It was not only a chance for not only the heralded rookie to test his mettle against an All-Pro-caliber safety, it was also an opportunity for Fitzpatrick to test some new techniques against an up-and-coming player.
For several moments, the Pickens-Fitzpatrick matchup drew everyone's attention, from the players and coaches taking part in practice to the fans and the media who were watching close by. In the end, the young buck earned a hard-fought win, but the real winner was the Steelers, as one of the best players wasn't afraid to put himself out there with her peers and thousands of others watching.
"He's a great player," Fitzpatrick told CBS Sports after practice. "We're challenging him in different ways, me lining up in front of him was one of those ways. Haven't lined up in front of him a whole lot this whole camp, so we wanted throw something different at him. It's different for me, too. I haven't done that in a while, so it was good. Both of us were outside of our comfort zone, challenging and pushing each other, just working."
The word working is synonymous with Fitzpatrick, who is typically one of the last Steelers to leave the field following practice. It shouldn't come as a surprise that former Alabama teammate Najee Harris is also notorious for putting in extra work after practice.
"That's probably because Minkah makes him," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told the media on Thursday. "Minkah's kind of his big bro. He's known him since he was 18, so those still waters run pretty deep."
When looking at the greatest trades in Steelers history, the one to acquire Fitzpatrick from Miami in September of 2019 may be right at the top. The Steelers acquired Fitzpatrick (who at that time was at the start of his second season) while swapping several draft picks with the Dolphins that included their first-round pick in the 2020 Draft.