Worilds' presence boosts Steelers' defense in Woodley's absence
The Steelers are finally seeing what they expected of Jason Worilds when they first drafted him four years ago.
And just when they're not sure how much longer they'll be seeing him in their uniform.
No doubt the Steelers were concerned about how effective their already-inconsistent pass rush would be when LaMarr Woodley — who had five sacks in his first six games — injured a calf Nov. 10 against Buffalo.
But in the two games since Woodley was replaced by Worilds, a 2010 second-round pick, they have mounted far more pressure than they have all season.
On Sunday, they had five sacks and six hits on Browns quarterbacks Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden — with all six hits by Worilds. Against the Lions and Browns, they had a combined seven sacks and 17 QB hurries, or exactly the kind of pressure they weren't getting early in the season.
Worilds has 10 quarterback hits in those two games, or more than Woodley has had in any of his last four seasons.
“It's fun to be out there,” Worilds said Monday. “Being out there on the field consistently kind of opened up some doors.”
Especially, it seems, the one that leads to the quarterback.
This consistent pressure has led to the Steelers allowing only a meaningless touchdown and 11 points in their past six quarters.
First-round pick Jarvis Jones, back in the lineup with Woodley out, also has responded with four quarterback hurries, two blocked passes and four tackles in two games.
Jones credits defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau with consistently mixing up his pass rushes — Worilds rushed on 52 of 76 plays in Cleveland — but also said he and Worilds are comfortable playing together.
“I think we've been doing a great job,” Jones said. “There's still some things to clean up technique-wise, but I think we've been doing a greater job of mixing some things in.”
With a quick turnaround before the Thursday night game against Baltimore, the Steelers aren't certain if Woodley will be ready to play.
Or, if he does, whether he will remain on the left side, as usual, or switch to the right side to accommodate Worilds.
Woodley said last week he's comfortable playing on either side, though productive veterans such as himself are rarely moved out of position.
“Especially when you're know you're capable, to finally be able to go out there and contribute, it's fun,” said Worilds, who fought through injuries, a switch from defensive end in college to outside linebacker and inconsistent playing time his first three seasons.
Coach Mike Tomlin dismisses Worilds' big push as being related to him playing for a contract. Worilds' rookie-year deal is up after this season, and he will become a free agent.
“As a competitor, he recognizes the circumstances,” Tomlin said Monday of Worilds, who has four sacks, 13 QB hits and 15 QB hurries, plus 18 tackles. “It's the natural evolution of a healthy guy that's become a veteran football player.”
One who is emerging at just the right time.
Mark Kaboly contributed to this report. 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.
- Steelers’ Timmons looks to reverse defense’s struggles
- Steelers’ Polamalu relying on smarts as physical skills decline
- Steelers notebook: Big Ben sees increase in throwing out of shotgun
- Steelers defense a long way from ‘greatest of all time’
- Steelers notebook: Former lineman Kemoeatu receives kidney from brother
- Steelers remain confident in ground game
- NFL notebook: Cardinals RB Dwyer arrested on assault charges
- Steelers’ Roethlisberger still hurting after hard hit from Ravens’ Upshaw
- Steelers’ Brown combats disruptive defensive ploys
- Steelers film session: Missed tackles prove costly
- Steelers not receiving big returns on their offseason investments