Alex Highsmith is a player Steelers shouldn’t expect to see on the defense that often. He may see some rotational snaps throughout the year, but special teams will be his main calling card. However, this changes in week 17. With the Steelers having secured the 5th seed and with no way to move up or down, they rest their starters.
This opens the door for Highsmith and Olasunkanmi Adeniyi to start at OLB, and while Adeniyi adds a sack to the three he’s contributed on the season, Highsmith looks the part of a starter. He beats Jedrick Wills early on for the sack, and later adds another 1.5 by aiding Isaiah Buggs in getting to the QB. As well, he knocks the ball out of Kareem Hunt’s hands, leading to a fumble recovery TD by Cameron Sutton.
The Steelers defense, led mostly by backups, has a great day against the Browns. While the offense is a little slower, the defense holds the Browns to 9 points, allowing the Steelers to pull the upset win. Highsmith does his part with 6 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. He sets himself up to replace Bud Dupree in 2021.