No preseason could mean no playing time for Steelers rookies

Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /
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Alex Highsmith (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

The Steelers rookies on the defensive  side of the ball may find themselves on the outside looking in

Drafted in the third round, Alex Highsmith, LB out of Charlotte, is presumably going to make the 53-man roster as the Steelers depth at OLB is slim.  To what degree he plays remains to be seen. Highsmith had a productive college career and because of that, I am sure the Steelers are hoping that production translates to the NFL.

I personally believe it is difficult for rookie OLBs to amass playing time simply because the OLBs in our system are not asked to do just one thing. If all they were asked to do is rush the passer, I am pretty sure Highsmith would be adept at performing that task.

Perhaps unfortunately for Highsmith, our OLBs are asked to drop into coverage occasionally.  Although that can be simulated in practice, there is nothing like displaying what you learned in practice in a game setting.  Whether Highsmith can cover or not, he will be battling veterans for playing time.

Honestly, I do not see a scenario where Highsmith will be ‘the first off the bench’ in terms of being the primary backup, but that certainly could be the case. If he can absorb the playbook and show the coaches that he has command of it, he stands a realistic shot at getting some snaps in a real game.

Let’s continue to look at the rookies on defense.