Steelers Candidate #1: Alex Highsmith
Protecting the endzone was difficult, but Teryl Austin’s team managed to get the job done. While T.J. Watt nursed his peck injury, Alex Highsmith became the dominant edge rusher. Multiple sack performances against the Bengals, Browns, and Saints solidified his new identity as a threat. His force was felt by opposing backfields – forcing turnovers for the men in gold.
Highsmith’s value doubled when Watt returned to action. Stout defensive performances helped the Steelers conquer the Ravens, Raiders, and Panthers. Clutch victories propelled Mike Tomlin’s team into playoff consideration – an afterthought to many fans in the early part of the season.
If the Steelers played without Highsmith or Watt, would the ending of the busy season end the same? The Steelers are lucky to have a polished secondary edge rusher, and he will develop into a force in time. Considering No.56 for “Steeler of the Year” is a good feeling knowing he found his role on the defense.
It takes a collective effort to win in competitive sports. Individual achievements are honorable but do not make as many memories as the goals accomplished as a unit. Mike Tomlin’s squad should be proud of their performance this season. They could use it for motivation, and become better in the seasons to come.