PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – His contract is up at the end of this season and coming off a career-high 14.5 sacks, outside linebacker Alex Highsmith told the Cook and Joe Show he’s hopeful of a new contract before training camp starts in July.
“We will see what happens,” Highsmith said on 93.7 The Fan. “Right now I’m here to work. Here to get better, perfect at my craft. That’s always the mindset I’ve had. I know I’m in a unique position right now, but coming in that’s always how I’ve been.”
Every player has a strategy, but unlike some who have either skipped voluntary workouts or held ‘sit-ins’ when they show, but don’t do any team drills, Highsmith has been full go for the first week of Organized Team Activities.
“As a walk-on in college, working hard and earning, nothing is given to me,” Highsmith told The Cook and Joe Show on 93.7 The Fan. “I always want to work, optimistic something will get done. I hope it’s able to get done before training camp.”
Highsmith blew away his previous professional high of six sacks by eight-and-a-half last season, with some of those games without TJ Watt on the other side. The fourth-year linebacker says he just tries to work hard every day. He felt like he did that last year and he’s also built a chemistry with Watt that he continues to grow. He also believes there are higher numbers to attain and not just in salary.
“Want to surpass what I got last year,” Highsmith said on the Cook and Joe Show. “Last year my goal was to get 10 or 12, continue to play the run and work on my moves. There are some games where I could have been more productive and times I missed sacks when I could have got them. No matter how I play, I want to always feel like I can do more and get better.”
He had seven games where he played at least 91% of the defensive snaps and in Week 16, played 100% against Baltimore. Along with the sacks, the other impact number that stood out was forced fumbles. The former Charlotte star tied for the NFL lead with five in 2022.
“It starts in to preparation in practice,” Highsmith told Ron Cook and Joe Starkey on 93.7 The Fan. “It’s something I’ve been working on for a long time, it hasn’t come overnight. Every passing drill that I do, I work on reaching my right arm and swiping at the ball. Just getting that muscle movement, that muscle memory of me coming down on the ball. Most QB’s I play can’t see me on the side I come off of.”
While the mind is on preparing for the season, obviously he’s also thinking about his future.
“I’m optimistic, not sure where it’s at right now,” Highsmith admitted on 93.7 The Fan. “I want to be in Pittsburgh. I really hope something works out. I love playing here. I love playing in this defense. I love the guys I play with, the coaches I play for. I want to be here for a long time.”
Highsmith will be a part of the ‘Man Up Pittsburgh’ for the second straight year. It’s an event Urban Impact has organized led by Mike Tomlin for years, and Highsmith said it’s cool for him to see his coach in a different light giving wisdom to people other than the team.
“It helps Godly men, Godly fathers, Godly husbands be better men overall,” Highsmith said. “Excited to be able to speak at it. It’s going to be a great event.”
The day-long event at Victory Church in Cranberry is Saturday, June 10. To register or for more information ‘uifpgh.org/man-up-pittsburgh/’