Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Alex Highsmith turned in a solid performance Sunday night in the team’s overtime win against the Seattle Seahawks as the former third round draft pick out of Charlotte recorded seven total tackles, 1.5 sacks, four quarterback hits and two tackles for loss. Not only that, but Highsmith also played every defensive snap Sunday night against the Seahawks despite the game going into overtime.
On Monday, Highsmith was asked during his media session if the plan going into Sunday’s game was for him to play every defensive snap, 65 in total.
“I just wanted to go out there and, you know, do the best that I could when I was in,” Highsmith said. “You know, I felt like I was feeling good. It felt like I was breathing well and moving well and so, that was just, you know, the mindset for me. You know, I felt like I was moving well and just overall my body was feeling well out there to be able to play more plays.”
Highsmith missed the Steelers Week 3 game with a groin injury. Since then, he has played 40 total defensive snaps in each of the team’s last two games.
“Really, the past couple of weeks I’ve been healthy,” Highsmith said. “But I really wanted to come out and make a statement in this game. I knew I haven’t been playing how I know I can play these first few games of the season.
“Forget the groin and everything. I know if I’m out there, I’ve got to perform. I just wanted to come out with an attack mindset all game. I felt like I did. I felt like I was getting to the ball well and so I felt like it was a good night. I’ve got to keep building on it.”
Well Highsmith certainly has made some nice improvements since his 2020 rookie season; he knows it benefits him quite a bit by being part of a defensive front that includes two All-Pro players in defensive tackle Cameron Heyward and fellow outside linebacker T.J. Watt.
“It’s awesome being able to play with both of those guys,” Highsmith said. “With both of them being All-Pro guys, two of the best at what they do, I know that if the line slides over to them and puts extra protection on them, I’ve got to win my battles, win my one-on-ones.”
Even though Highsmith does play alongside two great players in Heyward and Watt, the former made sure to let everyone know after Sunday’s game that the Steelers second year outside linebacker shouldn’t be regarded as a forgotten about player in the defense.
“Alex, you know, I hate that people say he’s forgotten about because Alex works his tail off,” Heyward said of Highsmith. “Man, it’s a great story unfolding right now. He’s a guy who came from Charlotte, you know, was a walk-on. And then he pops on the scene here, plays behind a guy like Bud Dupree, steps in, has been a contributor ever since. Alex works his tail off and then doesn’t get the sacks till this game and he just came through. And hopefully it’s something he can build on. You can’t sleep on Alex Highsmith. He’s going to be a player for us and he’s going to be a contributor for the Steelers for a long time.”
While Sunday’s night game will essentially be viewed as Highsmith’s best as a professional, he certainly isn’t going to let that performance go to his head as the Steelers head into their bye week
“We just try to do our jobs,” Highsmith said after Sunday’s game. “That’s what happens when we do our jobs, the plays will come. “Coach (Mike) Tomlin always says, ‘Make routine plays routinely.’ Getting those one-on-one blocks in pass rush, we’ve got to make those routine wins and get to the quarterback.”
The next chance that Highsmith will get when it comes to getting after a quarterback will be in Week 8 when the Steelers play the Cleveland Browns on the road in what will be the team’s second AFC North game of the 2021 regular season.