Steelers edge rusher Alex Highsmith got off to a hot start in his third season.
In the victory over the Bengals, Highsmith recorded nine total tackles, two tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, and a forced fumble.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday that Highsmith’s production stemmed from a “natural maturation process that he’s going through.”
“We drafted him in the third round out of Charlotte, he showed us some things, that he was able to carve out a role for himself in his rookie year and be a third outside linebacker and even playing some packages, we created some packages to be inclusive with him,” Tomlin said in his press conference. “His second year, he moves into a starting role and does an admirable, varsity job there. So, I just think it’s reasonable to expect that he’s going to continue to improve in the ways that he’s done that since he’s been here.
“I don’t know that any of us are shocked by the performance. As a matter of fact, I think most of us expect it to continue. You’re not going to get three sacks each and every week, but he’s a good player and he’s a man to be reckoned with for sure.”
With T.J. Watt out for the next several weeks with his pectoral injury, Highsmith may receive more attention from offenses. But Tomlin wouldn’t speculate on that, saying reporters should ask Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
In 33 career games with 22 starts, Highsmith has 11.0 career sacks with 22 tackles for loss and 25 quarterback hits.