The Los Angeles Chargers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 41-37 on Sunday Night Football. With a handful of key players out injured, several players got their shot at an expanded role.
Here are the players with their stock on the move after Week 11:
OLB ALEX HIGHSMITH – STOCK UP
Part of the reason why the Steelers were so comfortable letting Melvin Ingram go at the trade deadline was their confidence in Alex Highsmith. He proved that the confidence was not misplaced in Week 11, as he was playing opposite Derrek Tuszka and Taco Charlton most of the game, and still managed 1.5 sacks and a tackle for a loss. Highsmith was one of the few bright spots on the defense on Sunday night. Pro Football Focus gave him the highest overall grade on the Steelers defense with a 73.9. Having only tallied 1.5 sacks in the rest of the season, this could be just the type of performance that Highsmith needed to propel him toward a strong finish.
ILB DEVIN BUSH – STOCK DOWN
Now a regular on this list, Devin Bush’s stock may have reached a career low. With most of the defensive stars missing out on Week 11’s action, Bush had a little extra pressure on him to pick up the slack. He was unable to do so, missing tackles, blowing coverages, and overall having a subpar game. PFF gave him his lowest game grade of his entire career at an abysmal 28.8 including six receptions allowed into his coverage on six attempts. It seems like a foregone conclusion at this point that he will not have his fifth year option picked up in the offseason. That would make two straight first-round picks (Edmunds, Bush) to not get their fifth-year options picked up.
WR DIONTAE JOHNSON – STOCK UP
Through the ups and downs of the Steelers’ 2021 season, Diontae Johnson has quietly been having a stellar campaign. With 101 yards and a touchdown in Week 11, his season totals moved to 59 receptions, 714 yards, and four touchdowns, including a missed game due to injury. The team has largely been missing the explosive play threat this year, but he seems to be good for one or two in every game. He creates elite separation, is good with the ball in his hands, and has really worked on mitigating the drops that plagued him last season.
IDL ISAIAH BUGGS – STOCK DOWN
Isaiah Buggs has now started in a handful of games this season after Tyson Alualu’s injury, and the Steelers’ defense has taken a noticeable step back in their run defense. If you reflect back on the Seahawks game, and now the Chargers game, the Steelers were killed on the ground. While that isn’t squarely on Buggs, he hasn’t consistently made himself part of the solution. Buggs provided some good depth last season when called on, but that hasn’t translated to the starting role.
TE ZACH GENTRY – STOCK UP
With Eric Ebron potentially out for the rest of the season with a knee injury that ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported might require surgery, Zach Gentry should get plenty of playing time to close out the season. The offense has been at its best this year with Gentry and Freiermuth getting the most snaps at the position. Gentry is relatively new to tight end, but he completely changed his body since being drafted. Because of that, he has been an asset in the blocking game. We have a chance now to see other parts of his game blossom with increased opportunity. Reviewing the film against the Chargers, Gentry was open in big moments.