The Pittsburgh Steelers players voted outside linebacker T.J. Watt their team MVP for a second consecutive season on Thursday and on the heels of that, rookie outside linebacker Alex Highsmith was asked to comment on his position-mate winning the award this week when he met the media on Friday.
“First and foremost, T.J.’s so deserving,” Highsmith said of his outside linebacker teammate. “That’s not going to be the only award for him. Up next is Defensive Player of the Year and I think we all know that. T.J.’s been just great to play with, him and Bud [Dupree].”
Highsmith was obviously thrust into a starting role opposite Watt in the team’s defense when starting outside linebacker Bud Dupree was lost for the remainder of the season to a knee injury in Week 12. Since then, however, Highsmith has played reasonably well. On Friday, he talked some about what all he’s learned from Watt during his rookie season.
“Just learning from T.J. just different pass rush moves, just things about pass rushing that I didn’t know before coming in as a rookie,” Highsmith said of Watt. “He’s told me ways that he’s grown over the four years that he’s been in the league. And so, it’s just been awesome to be able to just learn from him and just to watch his film and be able to just kind of dissect the way that he rushes the passer, because he’s one of the best, if not the best in the league at doing it. So, it’s just I’ve been blessed, you know, just to be able to learn from him and Bud at my position.”
Against the Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday, Highsmith had perhaps his best game of the season since taking over fulltime for Dupree as he recorded seven total tackles and two quarterback hits. Pro Football Focus graded out his Sunday performance against the Colts at 80.6, his best score since Week 9 when he got his first sack against the Dallas Cowboys. Highsmith, however, much like Watt, has already moved on from his last game. He’s also not happy that he didn’t get a sack against the Colts.
Definitely not to my standard,” Highsmith said on Friday of his play against the Colts. “I didn’t end up hitting home and that’s what matters most to me is hitting home and getting a sack. But, you know, I was able to provide some pressure, more pressures than I did the first three games.
“So, I just try not to focus on that no matter if I play a good game or a bad game, just try to move onto the next one and just try to kind of erase it. Because it doesn’t matter what I did, it matters what I do coming up. And so just kind of just erasing that out of my memory, just getting ready for this Cleveland game, because I got to go out there and just be better than I was on Sunday.”