2020 South Side Questions: What Percentage Of Snaps Will Alex Highsmith Play?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.

Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.

As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion

Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: What percentage of snaps will Alex Highsmith average per game for the remainder of the season?

With Bud Dupree done for the rest of the year following his torn ACL suffered in the Steelers’ last game on Wednesday, the Steelers must figure out how to account for the significant amount of snaps that he has been responsible for. Nobody on the roster other than T.J. Watt has much experience.

They do have three other outside linebackers on the roster, perhaps a fact some may not realize. Rookie Alex Highsmith is, of course, one of them, with third-year Olasunkanmi Adeniyi being another, but Jayrone Elliott is and has also been on the 53-man roster, after beginning the season on the practice squad.

The team has already made it clear that Highsmith is the guy who will move into the starting lineup. He has been serving as the primary rotational backup for almost all season anyway. Defensive coordinator Keith Butler, however, mentioned Adeniyi as needing to step up as well.

Adeniyi has logged snaps on defense in all but two games so far this season, so given that he has to move up a run, it’s likely that Elliott will also be called upon to play, after having played zero snaps in three games played.

Dupree was averaging nearly 90 percent of the snaps played per game. Highsmith isn’t going to match that. But could he reasonably be asked to handle about 70 percent or so? He has only ever played 20 or more snaps in a game once so far.

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