Steelers training camp: Early winners and losers before the pads come on

  • A fan-favorite rookie struggles with mental errors
  • Edge defenders steal the show so far

Steelers, Anthony McFarland Jr.
Steelers, Anthony McFarland Jr. / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Winner: Alex Highsmith and T.J. Watt

Speaking of Alex Highsmith, the former zero-star recruit coming out of high school and third-round pick of the Steelers in 2020 has been one of the stars of training camp so far. While his excellent play isn't as surprising as Nick Herbig's, he has been beating up on offensive tackles so far.

The same goes for T.J. Watt (and this almost goes without saying). Though Watt's reps have been limited so far (as they should be), the former Defensive Player of the Year has been busy getting after the quarterback and swatting down passes at the line of scrimmage. Basically, all the things we have come to expect from him.

So far, we have seen great signs that point to Watt and Highsmith being terrors to opposing offenses in 2023. At the same time, it's a bit discouraging to see the collective group of offensive tackles struggle as badly as they have early in camp.

When the pads come on, we expect much of the same from Pittsburgh's two best pass rushers. Watt and Highsmith now have the second-highest combined salaries of any pass-rush duo in the NFL... and they are playing like it. Now Mike Tomlin and Teryl Austin need to make sure their reps are limited so they can both make it through a full season together.