During his weekly media session, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was given the opportunity to offer Minkah Fitzpatrick advice following an appendectomy. The Bengals quarterback underwent one prior to the start of regular season, and Fitzpatrick, the Steelers two-time All-Pro safety, had an appendectomy this past Saturday.
"Maybe just wait another week," a smiling Burrow told the media.
Burrow was referring to Fitzpatrick sitting out this Sunday's game between the Steelers and Bengals. Burrow won't get his wish, though, as Fitzpatrick was a full participant during Thursday's practice -- five days after having his appendectomy.
It initially appeared that Fitzpatrick would miss multiple games. But after watching last Sunday's 20-10 win over the Saints from the sideline, Fitzpatrick will be back on the field this Sunday. He carried no game designation in the Steelers' final Week 11 injury report.
When healthy, Fitzpatrick has enjoyed a Pro Bowl-caliber season. In seven games, the former first-round pick has three interceptions, six pass breakups and 45 tackles. He was tabbed as the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after tallying 14 tackles, a pick-six and a blocked point-after attempt that allowed the Steelers to defeat the Bengals in overtime back in Week 1.
Pittsburgh's secondary stepped up with Fitzpatrick out during Sunday's win over the Saints. Damontae Kazee and Levi Wallace both came up with key second-half interceptions while helping the Steelers hold the Saints to just 174 yards passing.
Sunday's game will come against a much better offense and quarterback. Burrow has emphatically rebounded from his four-interception performance against Pittsburgh in Week 1. Since that game, the reigning Comeback Player of the Year has thrown 16 touchdowns against just two interceptions. For the season, Burrow is completing exactly 70% of his passes. Burrow has continued to have success despite losing his top wideout, reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Ja'Marr Chase, to a hip injury that has sidelined him for the past two games and will keep him out of Sunday's game in Pittsburgh.
Aside from Fitzpatrick, Burrow and the Bengals also know that they have focus on containing T.J. Watt, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year who also had a monster game when the two teams met Sept. 11. Watt returned last week after suffering a pec injury during the end of Pittsburgh's Week 1 victory.
"You've got to get the ball out quickly," Burrow said of Watt, who had a sack and an interception of Burrow in Week 1. "But, you know, he's probably the only guy in the league that you have to worry about when you do get the ball out quickly, because he's really good at reading the quarterback's drop, [getting] through the tackles and understanding when you're trying to throw the ball quickly. You saw in the first game, he got an interception just based off of reading my feet and get his hands up in the passing lane.
"So you've got to get help [contain him] with tight ends and running backs and me getting the the ball out quickly. [But] you can't help on every play. Sometimes, you've just gonna have to block him; that's how the game is. He's one of the premier guys in the league that really takes a lot of time and effort to game plan against. ... You can minimize [Watt's impact], but you can't shut him down."