Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith is targeting a Week 1 return from the rib injury that has kept him out of most of the preseason, he told Steelers Now.
Highsmith appears to be nearing a return, as he has been a limited participant in practice this week, and said that he’s looking to the Steelers’ season opener in Cincinnati on Sept. 11 as his goal for a return.
“Just looking forward to getting better every day,” Highsmith said. “Week 1 is the goal. Just have to continue to progress every day.”
When a player has a minor injury in training camp, it’s not always a bad things. A few days off can give a player the opportunity to rest and recharge from the daily grind of physical practices, and coaches are usually eager to get a look at a younger player in a different or expanded role for a few days of tryout.
That period of a happy break has long been eclipsed for Steelers outside linebacker Highsmith, who has been out since Aug. 8 with a rib injury — long enough to be sufficiently frustrated by his absence.
“I’m so excited to get back,” Highsmith said. “I’m just ready. I hate not being out there with the guys. I’m someone that sometimes, I’ve got to be held back a little. I’ve got to be smart. Sometimes, I’ll have an injury and not tell anyone about it and just let it get worse.”
So Highsmith isn’t pushing to get onto the field in Sunday’s preseason finale against the Detroit Lions, saying he’ll “talk to the doctors and see how it goes.” That’s partially in an effort to not rush himself back, but also because he feels that he is well-prepared to start the season strong, even without the benefit of a tuneup game.
“It’s not football, but I’ve been running,” he said. “I’m someone that always wants to be prepared. I know that when I am better, when I am 100%, I’ll be prepared.”
Without Highsmith, the Steelers have utilized a rotating cast of characters in the starting lineup opposite T.J. Watt, but have yet to find one that can make the kind of impact they’ve been looking for. Veteran Genard Avery, the most experienced of those options, was released on Tuesday.