Alex Highsmith’s 2023 Goal? Surpass His 2022 Sack Total

A year ago, Alex Highsmith didn’t just meet his goals. He shattered them. With the intent of recording his first double-digit sack season, he blew past that figure by midseason and finished the year with 14.5 quarterback takedowns. While it’d be easy to rest on his laurels, especially with a potential payday on the horizon, Highsmith again has big goals in 2023. He wants to beat that 14.5 sack number.

Appearing on 93.7 The Fan with Ron Cook and Joe Starkey, Highsmith outlined what he aims to do this fall.

“I definitely wanna surpass what I got last year,” Highsmith told the show. “So surpassing [14.5]. Last year, my goal was to surpass 10 or 12. This year I wanna surpass what I did last year.”

Highsmith got things started off right in 2022 with a three-sack performance in the team’s Week One upset win over the Cincinnati Bengals. He stepped up when the team lost T.J. Watt, often becoming its only source of pass rush production and by Week Six, Highsmith had racked up 6.5 sacks.

By year’s end, he led the charge with 14.5 of them, sixth in the NFL. Though he’s in an AFC with plenty of talented pass rushers, he was just one of two players to finish top 10 in sacks who failed to make the Pro Bowl, joining J.J. Watt. Curiously, T.J. Watt got the nod over him despite not having a big portion of the fan vote.

Most importantly, Highsmith’s sacks didn’t come in bunches the way they did his first two years. In his six-sack 2021 season, they came in only four of 15 games. In 2022, he had sacks in 10 of 17. He was more productive but also consistent.

The big season Highsmith had might look good enough, but he believes there were opportunities for more.

“There were some games where I could have been a lot more productive,” he said. “And there’s some times where I missed sacks or I should have got him and just was stuck on a lineman for too long during some rushes. So I just wanna always get better.”

Despite waiting on a contract, Highsmith practiced during the first week of Steelers’ OTAs. It’s a good way to begin that mission of breaking his sack mark. If Highsmith can have another 14.5+ sack year, he’ll become just the second Steeler in history to have two such seasons, joining Watt as the only current franchise player to accomplish that in back-to-back years. Watt did it three years running, 2019 to 2021, before injuries robbed him of the chance to make it four-in-a-row.

Catch the whole interview with Highsmith below.

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