PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers' defense is in line for a significant lift with the return of safety Minkah Fitzpatrick for their wild-card game against the Bills on Sunday.

"I think it's good anytime you get one of your best players back in the fold," Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. "He's a major communicator back there and does a lot of things for us, so I'm excited to have him back."

Fitzpatrick, who said he was "feeling good" Thursday, practiced fully Wednesday for the first time since injuring his knee in Week 15. Safety Damontae Kazee will also be back on the field after serving a three-game suspension for repeated violations of player safety rules. It's a boost for a defense that will be without star pass-rusher T.J. Watt.

2 Related

"Obviously we're upset T.J.'s not out there with us, but we still got a job to do and having most of our pieces back is big for us," Fitzpatrick said Thursday. "We get to do more, we get to be more fluid, have chemistry. And so, I think we're in a good place."

Fitzpatrick was questionable for the regular-season finale against the Ravens a week ago, but he ended up being inactive.

"I wasn't 110 [percent], and they kind of made a decision to sit me down," Fitzpatrick said. "It is a knee [injury]. I don't want me to go out there and make it 10 times worse.

"I think I could have played. I always think that, but they made an executive decision to sit me down."

Fitzpatrick, who was voted to the Pro Bowl, has only played in 10 games this season, battling injuries. He injured a hamstring against the Jaguars, broke a hand against the Cardinals and injured a knee against the Colts. Though he was never placed on injured reserve, Fitzpatrick missed four games with the hamstring injury and three games with the knee injury.

Depleted at safety with Kazee's suspension and injuries to their other top three safeties, the Steelers utilized a combination of Eric Rowe, who went unsigned for most of the season, and cornerback-turned-safety Patrick Peterson. The duo held up over the past three games and were crucial to the Steelers' win streak. Rowe had an interception and a forced fumble in that stretch, while Peterson had an interception of his own.

"Pat did a lot of good things," Fitzpatrick said. "It is rare for a guy to make that move, late in his career, in the season, but he did a really good job, was communicating at a high level. He was always in the right position. And then, definitely gave us a good look at Eric Rowe to see what he could do, and he did a great job as well."

With the return of FItzpatrick and Kazee, the Steelers have a logjam of talent in the secondary, but Austin anticipates using all the talent at his disposal to slow Josh Allen and his receiving corps.

"I think we will kind of figure that out as we go in terms of what we think is best for this game," Austin said, "but I think they're all going to play, they'll all have a role. What that role is, we'll have to wait and see that on Sunday.

"... I think we have four pretty good football players and making sure that we get the most out of them this week. I don't think it's going to be all coverage or all blitz or whatever in simplistic terms, but I just think we got to figure out a way to get these guys in the best positions to make plays because they've all shown that they're capable of making plays."