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NFL.com Names Alex Highsmith Steelers ‘Unsung Hero’ Of Season

With NFL Awards being announced over the past weeks and even more to be announced in the upcoming weeks such as M.V.P., there are some players that are deserving of recognition that have not received it yet. One of those is Alex Highsmith, who was a Pro-Bowl snub and a did not make any of the AP All-Pro teams.

However, that doesn’t mean some people in the media haven’t acknowledged Highsmith’s breakout season. He was just named Pro Football Writer Association First Team All-AFC, and today NFL.com’s Nick Shook called Highsmith the Pittsburgh Steelers’ surprise contributor and unsung hero.

“Highsmith blossomed in 2022, adding the strength he needed entering the league and blending it with his athleticism to wreak havoc on opposing offenses,” wrote Shook on Highsmith. “Without Watt, Highsmith recorded 22 tackles (five for loss), 3.5 sacks and one forced fumble. Once Watt returned, Highsmith truly took off, finishing with 14.5 sacks, a QB pressure rate of 13.8 percent (a product of the NFL’s fifth-most total pressures) and tying for the league lead in forced fumbles with five.”

Highsmith finished the season with incredible numbers, 14.5 sacks, 20 quarterback hits, 63 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, and five forced fumbles which led the NFL. Highsmith’s best week came in Week One against the Cincinnati Bengals as he recorded three sacks, four quarterback hits, nine tackles, two tackles for a loss, and a fumble recovery. He announced that when T.J. Watt was healthy that they would be the best pass rush duo in the league.

As Highsmith played well all season, next year more attention will be on him. He can no longer be viewed as the side kick who can be left on an island all game with he left tackle. Highsmith’s ascension to being a high quality EDGE rusher improves the defense so much. With him and Watt coming off the edge, the Steelers defense only allowed 16.9 points per game. It shortens the time a quarterback has to throw and lets the Steelers ballhawk secondary go to work.

If Pittsburgh stays healthy next year, and Highsmith improves even more, the Steelers can be a dangerous team. They have the pieces necessary to be lockdown on defense, and Highsmith’s jump in productivity is a huge reason why.

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