One of the pleasant aspects of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is that it seems we have somebody new to talk about and highlight in a positive way on a weekly basis. It helps that they have been winning every week, which makes it easier to find things to highlight, of course, though that doesn’t mean they have been perfect—far from it.
In fact, one of the latest players under the spotlight is rookie outside linebacker Alex Highsmith, who made it very clear that his highlight play on Sunday was a direct result of learning from a mistake he made earlier in the game. He didn’t get enough depth dropping against a certain alignment in the first half against the Baltimore Ravens. When he saw that look again, he got depth, and an interception that helped turn the game.
Even though he came in knowing that he would be behind two established starters in T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, both of whom have six-plus sacks on the season already, Highsmith has never felt as though he doesn’t belong. In fact, it’s been quite clear that he has been embraced in the room from the get-go.
Watt talked about Highsmith and how he has integrated himself in the locker room while speaking with the media yesterday, highlighting a shared passion for the game. “It’s been awesome. Alex is a great teammate”, he said via team-supplied audio to the interview. “He’s done a great job of trying to learn and understand the defense. I feel like he knows it very well, especially for a young rookie”.
“He loves football”, he added. “He’s always eager to learn new moves, tries to learn tricks of the trade. You should’ve seen his face after he had the interception, man. That was a really cool moment for him, and for all of us, because we know all the hard work that he puts in. The sky’s the limit for Alex Highsmith. I’m excited for him to continue to get more snaps”.
The rookie played a career-high 25 snaps in the Steelers’ win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, but the vast majority of them came in a new 3-5-3 defense in which Watt, Dupree, and Highsmith were all on the field at the same time. Watt and Dupree hardly took any snaps off in this one, logging 70-plus snaps.
But it has been the man out of Charlotte called upon to absorb the majority of those for which they are on the sideline. Olasunkanmi Adeniyi is also on the roster, and sees a few snaps here and there, but the team has relied increasingly upon the rookie instead.