Alex Highsmith Surprised Himself With 14.5 Sack Season, Focused On Not Getting Complacent

The Pittsburgh Steelers season is over, and as we head into the off-season, lots of questions about the team will need to be answered. And with the 2023 NFL Draft and free agency on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds. One of the high points of this entire season for the Steelers was the emergence of third-year EDGE rusher, Alex Highsmith.

Coming into the year, Highsmith was fresh off a 6 sack, 74 tackle season in which he showed major signs of improvement from his rookie season. Many fans thought this year he would blossom into a high-quality player for this defense, and well, they were right. He ended his 2022 campaign with 14.5 sacks, good enough to rank him sixth on the entire NFL leaderboard and fourth in the AFC. He also was tied for first the NFL in forced fumbles, ending the year with five total. If that’s not a breakout season, I’m not sure what is.

On today’s final episode of The Mike Tomlin Show, which airs via the teams’ YouTube channel, Highsmith was asked if he exceeded what he thought he could do this season when it came to his double-digit sack goal.

“Yeah. I’m just so grateful for this year,” he told Dale Lolley. “I feel like it was a big jump for me, and that’s just really what I wanted to do going into this year. Just taking that third-year jump was just so important and huge for me. I’m just so grateful to have the year that I had and to be healthy coming out of it all.” Highsmith continued, “It gave me a lot of confidence and I look forward to building on it for next year.”

Many Steeler fans and NFL fans around the league believe Highsmith may have been snubbed from being an All-Pro. He had a monster season trying to weather the storm while TJ Watt was out, and it seems to be getting little recognition. However, it’s tough to argue he had better seasons than guys like Hassan Reddick and Maxx Crosby, but it would’ve been nice to see him at least get a vote. Highsmith was later asked how he plans to build on this amazing season.

“Just continue to get better and to not get complacent. You know what hurts guys in this league is they see success and they get complacent, get comfortable. Just always be willing to get better, no matter how many sacks I have in a game, whether it’s one, two, three, zero sacks. Just continue to have that ‘get better’ mindset.”

It’s very encouraging to hear that from a player after coming off such a great year. He’s continued to get better in each of his three seasons in the NFL, and all signs show to him having an even stronger fourth year if TJ Watt stays healthy. This eventually leads to the question; will he get an extension sooner rather than later?

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