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Steelers Get Significant Boost Before Game vs. Bengals

A general view of the Pittsburgh Steelers stadium.

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 7: A general view during the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field on September 7, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Steelers are still right in the thick of things in the AFC North through 11 weeks. That makes this upcoming Sunday's matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals all the more important.

Thankfully the Steelers, the defense will be getting a notable boost before this weekend's AFC North rivalry game.

The #Steelers have activated standout DB Minkah Fitzpatrick from the COVID-19 reserve list.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 25, 2021

">According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Pittsburgh activated two-time Pro Bowl defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday. The 25-year-old missed last week's against the Los Angeles Chargers after testing positive for the virus shortly after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did. Now that he's healthy and off the COVID-19 list, Fitzpatrick will suit up for the Steelers this Sunday.

Getting Fitzpatrick back will be a massive addition for a Steelers secondary that struggled mightily against Los Angeles last Sunday night. Pittsburgh allowed Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert to pass for nearly 400 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-37 loss.

Fitzpatrick should help prevent Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow from having a similar performance this weekend. The 25-year-old safety hasn't been playing up to his usual Pro Bowl form, but has still been everywhere in the secondary for the Steelers this year.

In 9 games, Fitzpatrick has racked up 60 total tackles and a forced fumble. He's yet to come up with an interception after tallying nine picks in his last two seasons, but it's hard to believe that he'll be without one for much longer.

Fitzpatrick comes back just in time for a crucial set of Steelers games. Pittsburgh (5-4-1) will take on the Bengals this weekend before taking on the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens the following week. Both games will have massive division implications with only seven games to play.

If Fitzpatrick can return and up his play, the Steelers will have a chance to win both of those AFC North contests and establish themselves as a more legitimate contender in the division.