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Alex Highsmith Sees Improvement from Bengals OL, Stresses Need To ‘Control The Game Upfront’

On Wednesday, OLB Alex Highsmith spoke to the media after practice and was asked about the upcoming game against the Cincinnati Bengals. When Highsmith was asked about the Cincinnati OL, he mentioned that he expects the unit to put up a better fight than they did the first time around.

“As the season’s gone on, I think that they’ve grown together as a unit,” Highsmith said about the Bengals OL to the media Wednesday on video from Chris Adamski’s Twitter page. “If you want to control the game, we have to get after them upfront in the run and the pass with all the weapons that they have with of course with Joe [Burrow] at quarterback and Joe [Mixon] at running back and all the receivers that they have. So, we just know that we have to control the game upfront.”

The Bengals offensive line struggled mightily against the Steelers defense in Week 1, giving up seven sacks (one a sack strip fumble) and pressure Burrow into throwing four interceptions on the day. The play of the defense was largely the reason the Steelers held the league for most of the game as the offense struggled to get anything going until overtime, kicking a field goal to get out of Cincinnati with the victory to open the 2022 season.

Highsmith particularly had a great game against the division rival Bengals as he posted three sacks four QB hits, six hurries, a pressure, a forced fumble, and a 12.3% pass rush win rate according to Pro Football Focus. He dominated LT Jonah Williams, beating him with his signature inside spin mov as well as winning around the edge to get into the pocket and wreak havoc on QB Joe Burrow and the passing game. The defense also held up well against the run the first time they played the Bengals, holding RB Joe Mixon to 82 yards on 27 carries (3.03 YPC) with one carry going for 31 yards to boost the stats.

Still, Highsmith is correct that the Bengals have started to figure things out upfront on the offensive line in recent weeks. Mixon had the game of his life Week 9 prior to the bye week against the Carolina Panthers, toting the rock 22 times for 153 yards (7.0 YPC) and a whopping four rushing TDs with another receiving TD to cap off the performance.

Mixon had a fair amount of success against Pittsburgh last season to the tune of 46 times for 255 yards and two TDs in two meetings last season. The Bengals are hoping to see more of the same success from Mixon and the OL from last season and their most recent outing against the Panthers on Sunday when they travel to Pittsburgh while the Steelers hope that the addition of T.J. Watt back into the lineup will continue to boost their defensive front as they again look to stifle the opposing run game and make life hard for Burrow with the heat of their pass rush.

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