Steelers' Woodley insists role shouldn't change
LaMarr Woodley's stare-and-glare response answered the question before he did.
“Part-time player? I don't think so,” Woodley said Wednesday when asked if his playing time might be trimmed to accommodate rookie Jarvis Jones. “The only time I've been a part-time player is due to injuries these past two seasons. Other than that, no, I never have been.”
Still, the former Pro Bowl outside linebacker isn't certain how he will be used beginning Sunday, when the Steelers reveal how they will fit three players — Woodley, Jones and Jason Worilds — into two positions.
In the past, Woodley and James Harrison rarely came off the field, and they rank among the NFL's top 11 in sacks since Woodley's rookie season in 2007. Woodley is 11th with 52.
Harrison is gone, and Woodley's sack production dropped from 13 1⁄2 in 2009 to four in the last 1 1⁄2 seasons as he fought hamstring injuries and a high-ankle sprain.
The Steelers are determined to be disruptive and cause turnovers. As coordinator Dick LeBeau said, sacks cause turnovers. And the Steelers liked how Jones, their first-round draft pick, caused them repeatedly during the preseason.
On Tuesday, coach Mike Tomlin said, quite clearly, “Jones is going to play.”
Woodley agreed that Jones should be on the field.
“He's been doing a great job of being around the ball, making some big-time plays and helping the defense,” Woodley said. “Now he's got to continue to do that for the next 16 weeks.”
Worilds had five sacks despite starting only three games in 2012, and he and Woodley will start the opener against Tennessee.
“Everybody's got a role, and my job this week is not to start,” Jones said. “So I've got to come in there and make things happen when I can.”
But when Jones comes in, who goes out? And for how long?
During the third preseason game against Kansas City, Woodley and Worilds started, but after Jones came on the field, he rarely left. And given his recent injury history, the Steelers might want Woodley to take off the occasional series to remain fresh as Jones and Worilds play.
“It hasn't been like that in all the years I've been starting (since 2008), and I don't think it's going to be like that any time soon, but I guess we'll have to see on Sunday,” Woodley said.
Inside linebacker Larry Foote isn't accustomed to seeing much in-game shuffling on the outside.
“Through the past, the outside linebackers, they don't take it too lightly coming out,” Foote said.
Woodley, of course, doesn't want to come out at all, and he knows what he can do if he stays injury-free.
“It's not like I'm a new player in this defense,” Woodley said. “When it's time to go out there and play, I'm going to continue to do what I've always been doing, getting after the quarterbacks, doing a great job against the run. And when I'm dropping into coverage, doing good in my coverage responsibilities.”
To Woodley, it's difficult trying to do all that while playing part-time.
“Everybody knows,” he said, “what I can go out there and do.”
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.
- Steelers offensive line targeting injury-free performance as key
- Former Steelers kicker Reed doesn’t like new NFL PAT rule
- Steelers’ Heyward looking to stay for long haul
- Steelers interested in playing internationally again
- Steelers claim QB-turned-WR Gardner
- Steelers guard Foster likes offense’s direction heading into season
- NFL moves PAT back to 15-yard line
- Steelers draft WR from Auburn in 3rd round
- Undrafted free agent linemen seek to provide depth for Steelers
- Steelers gamble Chickillo can make transition to outside linebacker
- Starkey: Clayton, Steelers and ‘Shouldergate’