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Steelers' Woodley seeks to regain status as elite linebacker

Chaz Palla | Tribune Review - Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley during practice on the South Side Aug. 5, 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Chaz Palla | Tribune Review</em></div>Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley during practice on the South Side Aug. 5, 2012.
CHAZ PALLA | TRIBUNE-REVIEW FILE - LaMarr Woodley is about to become one of the most expensive ex-Steelers in team history. The team will release the former Pro Bowl outside linebacker — one who is coming off three consecutive injury-interrupted seasons — on June 1.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>CHAZ PALLA  |  TRIBUNE-REVIEW FILE</em></div>LaMarr Woodley is about to become one of the most expensive ex-Steelers in team history. The team will release the former Pro Bowl outside linebacker — one who is coming off three consecutive injury-interrupted seasons — on June 1.
Chaz Palla | Tribune Review - Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley during practice on the South Side Aug. 5, 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Chaz Palla | Tribune Review</em></div>Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley during practice on the South Side Aug. 5, 2012.

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LaMarr Woodley already has sack years of 11 12, 13 12 and 10 in his first three seasons as a Steelers' starting outside linebacker.

Woodley is the only player in NFL history to record at least two sacks in four consecutive postseason games and has 11 sacks in eight playoff games.

Impressive to all — except for maybe his position coach Keith Butler.

Even though Woodley has 44 sacks in 57 starts since becoming a starter in 2008, Butler believes that Woodley could be one of the best who ever played the game — if he wants to.

“LaMarr, like a lot of players, sometimes it takes a few years to understand what the league is all about and how competitive the league is,” Butler said. “A lot of guys come in the league and have a lot of natural ability. At some point in time they realize they have to work in order to stand out in this league. If you don't work, you are just going to be another guy — a good player, but not a great player.”

Butler was referring to Woodley's weight issues. Listed at 265 pounds, Woodley showed up at camp last year overweight, which led to a slow first month of the season followed by a hamstring injury that kept him out of six games and parts of two others.

Woodley finished with nine sacks and 39 tackles.

“He just wasn't in shape,” Butler said. “He'll tell you that. If he don't tell you that, I'll tell you that, I don't care. He has to get his big butt in shape, I tell him that all of the time: Don't come to camp weighing 290.”

“I am always rising up to the challenge,” Woodley said. “My goals are to get back to the Super Bowl and win it.

“When you set that high goal there, everything else just plays out. I really don't need to set personal goals.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at mkaboly@tribweb.com.

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