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Steelers 3rd-Year Linebacker Star Alex Highsmith Focused on “Being Consistent” and “Not Becoming Complacent”

Steelers 3rd-Year Linebacker Star Alex Highsmith Focused on “Being Consistent” and “Not Becoming Complacent”

The Pittsburgh Steelers were dealt a huge blow to their team with reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt suffering a partially torn pectoral muscle during the Week 1 win against the Cincinnati Bengals. The defense will now rely on third-year linebacker Alex Highsmith to carry this team over the next couple of months while Watt works his way back. Highsmith recently sat down with Steelers insider Missi Matthews to discuss his mindset moving forward and his career day last Sunday.

Steelers' Alex Highsmith and TJ Watt celebrate in a game against the Tennessee Titans in 2021

Steelers’ Alex Highsmith and TJ Watt celebrate in a game against the Tennessee Titans in 2021 / Credit: JSKO Photo

During Highsmith’s interview, he was asked about his mindset after coming out fast against the Bengals and how they can keep the momentum going throughout the season. His response included being consistent and not becoming complacent.

“It’s easy to get complacent at times, but this is a long season and it’s only one game,” Highsmith said.

Highsmith recorded 3 sacks, 9 total tackles and 2 tackles for loss last Sunday. It’s great to hear Highsmith stating that he is avoiding comfort and continuing to work hard and not resting on his laurels.


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Matthews also asked how Highsmith and his teammates will respond to the void left by injured star Watt.

“We have a lot of quality guys who are going to be able to step up while T.J. is down. I am going to continue to be a sponge when it comes to soaking up information from him. He’s still willing to help whenever I reach out and have questions about things,” Highsmith said.

Once again it’s extremely reassuring to hear that Highsmith still has confidence in the unit without a star like Watt around.

The Steelers went out after cut downs and signed two outside linebackers. The team traded for Malik Reed from the Denver Broncos as well as signed their former player Jamir Jones off waivers. Reed and Jones will be thrust into the shuffle while Watt is out and Highsmith stated he had nothing but confidence in the two.

Steelers OLB Malik Reed rushes the passer against the Bengals in Week 1

Credit: Karl Roser/Pittsburgh Steelers

“Guys like Reed and Jones, we’ve got a bunch of really good guys who will come in and provide production for us. Those guys have done a great job so far coming in and learning the system and playing fast. I’m looking forward to seeing how they do this Sunday,” Highsmith said.

The Steelers have led the NFL in sacks the last five seasons and started off the 2022 season with 7 sacks in their opener. Without Watt, it’s likely that sack production will take a hit. However, if Highsmith can continue to improve and Reed can be the guy he has been with Denver, then the pass rush may be able to survive for a while. While Reed and Jones are clearly no Watt, the secondary and interior pass rushers will have to help carry this team until Watt gets back.

The next month will show the Steelers take on a relatively weaker schedule with games at home against the New England Patriots and New York Jets then traveling to play the Cleveland Browns in between on Thursday Night Football. If the Steelers can sneak out two wins and be 3-1 without Watt, then their playoff hopes are still very much alive. The defense will clearly be different and that’s to be expected with such a large void. However, with leaders like Highsmith, this defense can potentially weather the storm for the next 6-8 weeks until Watt can come back and help this team make the playoffs for the second year in a row.

Let us know in the comments below how you think the secondary will respond and what we’ll see out of Highsmith!


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