Woodley tackles weighty issue
By Alan Robinson
Published: Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, 11:14 p.m.
LaMarr Woodley prepared for what might be the most important season of his career by effectively eliminating his offseason.
Aware of all the talk that more Woodley made for a lesser player, he began working out for 2013 only a few weeks after 2012 ended — and after he healed from a painful, cumbersome high ankle sprain.
He didn't believe his weight — listed as 265 pounds but believed to be more — hampered his play, even as his sacks dwindled from 13½ in 2009 to only four the past 1½ seasons.
But the perception among his teammates and coaches appeared to be different. So, aware that fellow pass rusher James Harrison might not return and he could be breaking in a new partner at outside linebacker, Woodley shed pounds and took on more responsibility as a leader of the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense.
At the same time the 28-year-old Woodley was training in Arizona, safety Troy Polamalu, age 32, was doing the same in California. As a result, the two players most responsible for the success and/or failure of the defense look to be in their best shape in seasons.
Already this preseason, they've made the type of did-you-see-that plays they once made regularly but produced only infrequently during injury-stalled 2012 seasons.
“We have to get back to doing what we're doing,” Woodley said Monday. “When you look at me, look at Troy, all of our stuff is based on big plays. When he doesn't make big plays, people are asking what's going on. If my sack number goes down, you're wondering what's going on with LaMarr Woodley.
“When you go from nine sacks (in 2011) to four sacks, a lot of eyebrows are being raised.”
The Steelers' sacks and turnovers produced are way down from a few seasons ago, and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is making it a priority to boost both numbers. First-round draft pick Jarvis Jones already appears to be making a difference with his ability to create fumbles.
Woodley hopes that by rushing the passer more and dropping into coverage less than he did last season, Steelers' sack numbers will jump. They've gone from 51 in 2008 to 35 in 2011 and 37 last season.
“People have got to find excuses for you, or say things about you, when your numbers drop,” Woodley said of the talk he was overweight. “But it's all about how you handle it at the end of the day, and coming back this year and bouncing back and trying to get back to the Super Bowl.”
Woodley wound up training in Arizona after accepting an invitation that teammate Ryan Clark made for years.
“He's as slim as we've ever seen him,” Clark said. “I've never seen him look so good. … He was very committed, committed to his diet, committed to his training.”
Against the Redskins last week, Woodley bulldozed through multiple players for a sack, something he couldn't do last season while being slowed by a hamstring injury and the high ankle sprain.
“(I) didn't have any explosion, any push-off (in 2012),” he explained.
Harrison and Woodley were largely responsible for the Steelers amassing more sacks than all but three teams since Woodley's rookie season.
Woodley doesn't doubt he can be just as effective with Jones and Jason Worilds playing alongside him. During the Chiefs preseason game Saturday, the Steelers kept a fresh tandem on the field at all times by rotating the three from series to series.
“I'm comfortable with both of them,” he said.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kovacevic: Big Ben’s contract clock ticking
- Talented center Sutter is proving to be ‘pretty important’ for Penguins
- Western Pennsylvania engineer aboard missing Malaysia Airlines flight
- Penguins notebook: Beau Bennett returns to practice
- Agent confirms Mendenhall retiring from NFL
- Pitt looking to enhance profile at ACC tourney
- Analysis: Kesler still on Pens’ radar as Shero aims to bring back ‘Big 3’
- Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg to be featured in TV series
- Latrobe hospital source of fuel spill
- Parking tickets in Downtown Pittsburgh spark outrage
- Busy preseason puts Riverhounds in good shape