The Steelers started that arduous process on Sept. 13 by bringing in former Washington Commanders outside linebacker Ryan Anderson. It will continue with David Anenih off the Tennessee Titans practice squad, per ESPN’s Field Yates, who signed to the Steelers 53-man roster on Sept. 15.
With Anderson and Anenih, it’s all about bolstering depth behind starters Alex Highsmith and newcomer Malik Reed, as the reigning Defensive Player of the Year is expected to spend six weeks rehabbing before a return to the field. Jamir Jones currently sits behind Highsmith on Pittsburgh’s depth chart.
With a standout preseason, the University of Houston product was expected to make the Titans’ 53-man roster. Instead, he landed on their practice squad. In 116 defensive snaps, he logged 3.0 sacks, two forced fumbles, and four tackles per Pro Football Focus.
Off to Injured Reserve for T.J. Watt
Though the Pittsburgh Steelers have not made it official, T.J. Watt to injured reserve could be the corresponding move to make room for David Anenih on the 53-man roster. Pittsburgh has flexibility on when they make this move, with the deadline being the end of the week.
“We’ve got time to make decisions such as that,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said in a Sept. 13 press conference. “Our decisions have to be made by the end of the week relative to this game being encountered, and so we’ve got time there.”
The good news stemming from the unfortunate injury to Watt is that the torn pectoral won’t require surgery. The sixth-year star could be back as early as the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 8.
Alex Highsmith, Malik Reed to Step Up in T.J. Watt’s Absence
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ acquisition of Malik Reed couldn’t have come at a better time. In 46 games (34 starts) with the Denver Broncos, Reed contributed 15.0 sacks, 123 tackles (15 for loss), 30 quarterback hits, four defended passes, three forced fumbles and two recovered fumbles.
“Malik is a 700-plus snap defender the last two years,” Tomlin said. “His resume speaks for itself. That’s why we went out and acquired him. He’s a very, very credible NFL player and we expect him to play varsity ball for us.
With three sacks, six tackles (two for loss), four quarterback hits and one forced fumble, third-year edge Alex Highsmith enjoyed a career game versus the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 11.
“I just think it’s a natural maturation process that he’s going through,” Tomlin said about Highsmith. “We drafted him in the third round out of Charlotte, he showed us some things, that he was able to carve out a role for himself in his rookie year and be a third outside linebacker and even playing some packages, we created some packages to be inclusive with him. His second year, he moves into a starting role and does an admirable varsity job there.
“So, I just think it’s reasonable to expect that he’s going to continue to improve in the ways that he’s done that since he’s been here. I don’t know that any of us are shocked by the performance. As a matter of fact, I think most of us expect it to continue. You’re not going to get three sacks each and every week, but he’s a good player, and he’s a man to be reckoned with for sure.”
All eyes will be on Highsmith as the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Mac Jones and the Patriots on Sept. 18 at Acrisure Stadium.