One of essentially the most beneficial commodities a soccer group can have, no less than behind that of a real franchise quarterback, is a real pair of high-quality bookend move rushers. The Pittsburgh Steelers already know that they’re no less than midway there with reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt. They are hoping that is the yr that Alex Highsmith solidifies his standing as they stalwart bookend.
A 2020 third-round draft choose, Highsmith moved into the beginning lineup on a full-time foundation final season after Bud Dupree left in free company. Following a dominant camp, nonetheless, he tweaked his groin heading into the opener, and one can surmise that that restricted his capacity to return out of the gates robust.
He completed the season properly, however can be the primary to criticize his personal play. His coaches and teammates haven’t been reserving of criticism, both, however solely as a result of they see how a lot expertise he possesses and what he can do if he performs to his full potential—as Watt sees himself, and which he mentioned with Pat Kirwan, Jim Miller, and Paul Alexander on Movin the Chains yesterday night on SiriusXM Radio.
“He’s so close to having those crazy numbers. Just even in camp practice, you see how disruptive that he is. He’s got a great motor. He’s always been willing to learn, ask the right questions”, Watt stated of his third-year operating mate. “I really hope those finishing plays come for him this year, because he really works his butt off”.
Highsmith’s expertise is simple, however his matching work ethic and self-discipline set the desk for his future success, offered that he can have a wholesome season. He has spent a great deal of time this offseason reviewing his tape from final yr, and he sees the entire sacks that he might have had.
Watt noticed the identical phenomenon in his personal sport in recent times, and he labored diligently to depart fewer and fewer of them on the market. Last yr, after all, he tied the all-time NFL single-season sack report with 22.5 on the finish of the 2021 season.
Now, that will be a lofty aim to set for Highsmith, however he’s greater than able to being a double-digit sack contributor, and that has been one of many major areas of focus that each he and his coaches have has for himself getting into this, his third season.
A extra steady entrance seven, each alongside the line of defense and among the many inside linebackers, ought to solely assist him additional by offering the defensive construction to permit him to maximise his move rush with out worrying concerning the play breaking down round him. If he can simply do his job and have that result in the sacks that he’s in search of, then 10-12 sacks ought to be no downside.
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