The Steelers were fortunate after T.J. Watt and Diontae Johnson suffered injuries Mike Tomlin described as minor during Pittsburgh’s preseason finale. The Steelers were not as fortunate as it relates to the injury safety Damontae Kazee sustained Sunday against the Lions. Kazee is expected to go on injured reserve after sustaining a wrist/arm injury that will require surgery, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Kazee, 29, displayed considerable versatility during his first training camp in Pittsburgh. He seemed to fit in well with first-year defensive coordinator Teryl Austin’s system while allowing Minkah Fitzpatrick to go back to his role as a playmaker after spending most of the 2021 season as a pseudo linebacker. The Steelers will have to find someone else to fit that role prior to their Week 1 matchup with the defending AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals on September 11.
Fortunately for the Steelers, there will be plenty of possible options to choose from as each NFL team is required to cut their rosters from 80 to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday. One player the Steelers may consider pursuing amid Kazee’s injury is veteran safety and special teams ace Rudy Ford, who reportedly will be released by the Jaguars prior to Tuesday’s deadline. The Jaguars’ decision to part with Ford was purely financial, as Ford was slated to make $2 million this season.
While the Steelers look to fill his role, Kazee will turn his attention towards his surgery and recovery. This marks the second time Kazee has suffered a significant injury in the NFL. He returned to the field in 2021 after a torn Achilles tendon prematurely ended his 2020 season after four games.
A fifth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Kazee spent time with the Falcons and Cowboys before signing a one-year deal with the Steelers in May. The NFL’s leader in interceptions with seven during the 2018 season, Kazee has 12 career interceptions to go with seven forced fumbles and 17 passes defensed.
A California native, Kazee played collegiately at San Diego State, where he was a two-time Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year.