Pittsburgh Steelers’ OLB Alex Highsmith confirmed to reporters he returned to practice today after missing the back half of the summer due to a rib injury. He announced his return in speaking to the media, as tweeted out by the PPG’s Ray Fittipaldo.
As Fittipaldo’s tweet notes, Highsmith says he expects to work in pads next Monday. Highsmith suffered the rib injury midway through August 8th’s “Monday Afternoon Lights” practice and sat out the rest of training camp. He also missed all of the team’s three preseason games, a sour note for still a relatively young player looking to break out this season.
Last year, Highsmith battled an early groin injury and finished the year with six sacks. Once healthy, he ended the season on a high note with four sacks over his final four games, including the team’s Wild Card loss against the Kansas City Chiefs. He’s on track to be healthy for Week 1’s matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals and be the Steelers’ starting ROLB opposite T.J. Watt. Earlier this offseason, Highsmith said his goal this year is to reach double-digit sacks. Even landing in that 7-8 sack range would be a good number for Highsmith as the Steelers look to rely on the strength of their defense and pass rush, a unit that’s led or tied for the league lead in sacks for five straight seasons.
Pittsburgh’s EDGE group is looking better today. Highsmith is progressing and the team traded for Broncos’ EDGE Malik Reed earlier today. Reed will serve as the #3 behind behind Watt and Highsmith. As of now, Derrek Tuszka appears to be the team’s #4.
Elsewhere, the statuses of players like CB Arthur Maulet (hamstring), ILB Marcus Allen (hamstring), DE Isaiahh Loudermilk (rib/side), S Miles Killebrew (pec), NT Montravius Adams (ankle), and WR Calvin Austin III (foot) are not currently known.
UPDATE (3:18 PM): According to the Trib’s Chris Adamski, NT Montravius Adams (ankle) and OT Joe Haeg (concussion) also returned to practice today.