TribLIVE

| Sports

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Steelers veteran outside linebacker Woodley: 'I'm good to go'

Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review - Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley during OTA's Tuesday, May 21, 2013, at the UPMC complex.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review</em></div>Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley during OTA's Tuesday, May 21, 2013, at the UPMC complex.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review - Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley during OTA's Wednesday, May 22, 2013, at the UPMC complex.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review</em></div>Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley during OTA's Wednesday, May 22, 2013, at the UPMC complex.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review - Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley during OTAs on Tuesday, May 21, 2013, at the UPMC complex.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review</em></div>Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley during OTAs on Tuesday, May 21, 2013, at the UPMC complex.

Steelers/NFL Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

By the numbers

Steelers LaMarr Woodley's career statistics:

Year GP Sacks

2007 13 4.0

2008 15 11.5

2009 16 13.5

2010 16 10.0

2011 10 9.0

2012 13 4.0

Source: Pro-football-reference.com

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Alan Robinson
Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 10:54 p.m.
 

He wore No. 56, but that wasn't LaMarr Woodley out there for the Steelers last season. He knows it, and the rest of the NFL knows it, too.

“Let's see if he takes the challenge (and improves),” NFL Network analyst Charles Davis said. “If so, you've automatically upgraded the position.”

Getting Woodley back on track — and in the best-possible shape — is a priority as the Steelers go through their 13 spring practices between now and June 13. With longtime Pro Bowl outside linebacker James Harrison gone to Cincinnati, Woodley will be the primary pass rusher charged with creating the pressure upon which coordinator Dick LeBeau's defense thrives.

Woodley couldn't do it last season, generating four sacks in 13 games, and it had a noticeable effect as the Steelers constantly were unable to protect leads or close out close games. They lost five times by three points.

Woodley kept hearing the rumblings that he wasn't in shape, that his repeated injuries — he had hamstring problems in 2011 and '12 — were the result of him playing heavier than he should have.

Woodley blames not his weight or conditioning but a high-ankle sprain Nov. 25 at Cleveland. He missed the next two games and did not have a sack in any of his final four games.

“My performance definitely went down. When you have a high-ankle sprain, it just affects everything you do, whether it's drop back in coverage or (if you're) asked to rush,” Woodley said Wednesday. “You try to fight through injuries, and when you're out there trying to fight through injuries, people are still going to say, ‘He's not being productive.' ”

Woodley looks to be in better shape than he was last season, but he would not disclose his weight or compare it to his weight at this time a year ago. He said the ankle injury healed once the season ended and he could rest.

But he said there wasn't much resting not long after that as he began preparing for what he anticipates will be a comeback season for an elite-level pass rusher who had 44 sacks from 2008-11 but has only four in his past 15 games.

And for that talk that he must keep his weight under control to play better?

“I'm the type of person that laughs at stuff like that, any kind of negative,” Woodley said.

“If you're professional and doing this for so long, whether it's coming up in Little League, you're always going to hear negative stuff, and positive. It comes with the territory. You deal with it, and you continue to march on.”

With a new outside linebacker starting opposite Woodley — either rookie Jarvis Jones or holdout Jason Worilds — the Steelers understand it is imperative to keep Woodley healthy and productive.

“LaMarr has to get on the field,” linebackers coach Keith Butler said. “Part of that is to make sure his hamstrings are in the top shape they need to be in for him to play a (full) year, a solid year and not miss any time. We're going to try to do what we can to make sure we remedy that.”

If Woodley doesn't miss time — he sat out nine games combined the past two seasons — the Steelers might not miss Harrison as much.

“I'm good to go,” Woodley said.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Steelers

  1. Steelers unfazed by Brady suspension saga
  2. Steelers’ Wheaton adjusting his game moving to slot receiver
  3. Steelers RB Archer trying to catch up after tough rookie season
  4. Inside the Steelers: Ventrone suffers right ankle injury
  5. Steelers LB Timmons has grown into leadership role on defense
  6. Steelers notebook: Backup QB Gradkowski remains out with shoulder issue
  7. Steelers ‘confident’ bid for 2023 Super Bowl in offing
  8. Steelers notebook: Rookie CB Golson still dealing with left shoulder pain
  9. Steelers’ Brown arrives in style, vows to be ‘the best in the world’
  10. Steelers RB Bell ready despite being in limbo
  11. Rossi: St. Vincent a football sanctuary during Steelers training camp