A tenacious trio: They are a unit not to be disturbed. A group that can bring warmth, intensity, fire from all angles.
TJ Watt. Alex Highsmith. Melvin Ingram III.
They are a tenacious trio of outside rushers for the Steelers, a unit that quickly formed into a nightmare for opposing defenses.
“The three-way rotation that we have with Alex and Melvin is something that’s going to be really special,” Watt said after the Steelers’ win over the Bills. “We’re a very selfless bunch and that’s why I can’t wait to play with both.”
Coach Mike Tomlin even said at his press conference on Tuesday that it might be possible from time to time to use all three at the same time, “if the situation permits.”
It was something that made Highsmith’s eyes sparkle.
“It would be special,” Highsmith said. “I think no matter where we are, if a package comes in like this, I know it’s going to be special. If we end up implementing this, it will be great.”
Highsmith and Watt started last week against the Bills, but the key isn’t always who starts because the rotation is what makes everything work so well.
“I think what makes it effective is that we’re all fresh and delivering quality rushes,” Highsmith said. “Like TJ said the other day, I really think this trio is going to be special. The fact that the three of us can come in and produce like we do is going to be special. It’s great to be able to work with Melvin. and TJ I’ve already learned so much from both of them. I just want to keep learning from them. They are veterans, established guys and the more I can learn from them the better. I’m just excited for what the year has in store. “
Highsmith is no stranger to high-turnover work. In his rookie season last year he worked with Watt and Bud Dupree, then stepped in and started after Dupree’s injury ended the season.
“Last year, going into my rookie year, it was great to have guys like Bud and TJ, guys who are established here and can learn. Bring in a guy like Melvin, a pro Bowler, a guy who knows what he is It’s great to be able to learn from him too. Like I said I’m just excited to be working with these two guys. “
Highsmith knows the expectations are higher for him this year, making that sophomore leap that Tomlin still preaches. He is ready for it.
“I feel like I’ll be able to take on the challenge, because I feel like I’ve matured a lot this year, mentally and physically,” said Highsmith. “I gained weight. I feel like I got faster and stronger in the offseason.
“I just have to keep improving the 1% every day. It’s something I preach to myself. I try to tell others too, getting better and better every day. I know the more clichés I get, just like last year, the slower the game will be for me. So I’m just happy to keep improving throughout this year. “
One area of interest to him was his “takeoff”, the speed of his reaction to the movement of the balloon.
“It’s so important,” Highsmith said. “It’s the (the most fun) exercise we do all day. Coach T is still there, sparking this competition between us. I’m glad we’re doing it because that’s really where If you don’t have good offsets, you won’t really be able to get to where you want to be and challenge the offensive linemen.
“I think that’s something that, at least for me, was one of my goals this offseason, to work on my downhill and go faster. I think so far this season, throughout the pre-season, last week I showed improvement on that, and I can’t wait to keep doing it. “
Highsmith said the key is that first movement of the ball.
“It’s really about looking at the number of snaps and stuff like that,” Highsmith said. “That’s what really helped me.”