Sack-happy Steelers LBs ready to reunite
It won't be a novelty when the Steelers line up two of the planet's top pass rushers at opposite sides of the field.
It may, however, qualify as an uncommon occurrence when outside linebackers LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison are on the field at the same time.
They have done that and both been healthy in just three full games this season — and not since late September.
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is optimistic that the two will resume tormenting quarterbacks together Nov. 27, after the Steelers return from their bye and play a night game in Kansas City.
"It's going to be a very new experience," said LeBeau, following the Steelers' 24-17 win at Cincinnati on Sunday. "We haven't had 'em for so long I forget what it feels like, but we're looking forward to it."
Injuries are why Harrison and Woodley's alliance has been an on-again, off-again proposition this season.
Harrison fractured his right orbital bone in the fourth game of the season. He played through the injury in a 17-10 loss at Houston, but eye surgery promptly shelved the four-time Pro Bowler.
Woodley went on a tear during Harrison's absence, registering 7 1⁄2 sacks in four games and becoming the first player in Steelers history with multiple sacks in four consecutive games.
But the 6-foot-2, 265-pounder went down with a hamstring injury while chasing New England quarterback Tom Brady on Oct. 30, and he has missed the past two games.
Harrison, meanwhile, returned two weeks ago and sacked Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco three times. Last Sunday, the 6-foot, 242-pounder drew a Bengals holding penalty while bearing down on Andy Dalton, but he wasn't able to sack the rookie quarterback.
The Steelers were tied for 10th in the NFL in sacks after Sunday with 23. Woodley and Harrison have combined for 14, but there has not been a game in which both have recorded at least one sack.
That happened seven times in 2010, including the postseason.
The Steelers can only imagine the dimension they will add to their pass rush when Harrison and Woodley are healthy at the same time and complementing each other, as they have done so well in the past.
The two have combined for 98 sacks since 2007, making them one of the most prolific pass-rushing duos in team history.
"You can't double both," Harrison said on why he and Woodley have been such an effective pass-rushing tandem. "It gives us a pick your poison, where you've either got to (double team) right or left."
Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel agreed.
"Both those guys are freaks of nature, they really are," Keisel said. "When they're both out there playing ball, we're a very tough defense."
What may make the Steelers even tougher is that Harrison and Woodley have a friendly competition when it comes to taking down quarterbacks.
Harrison doesn't have to be reminded that, trailing Woodley, 9-5, in sacks, he has some work to do.
"Gotta catch him," Harrison said. "He took off."
Notes: The starting time of the Steelers' Nov. 27 game at Kansas City will stay at 8:20 p.m. There had been speculation that the game would be moved through the NFL's flex scheduling so NBC could have a more compelling prime-time matchup. But the league confirmed Monday the starting time of the Steelers' next game will not be moved. ... Coach Mike Tomlin gave the players the day off Monday. The Steelers will practice Tuesday and tomorrow and then be off the rest of the week. They will return to practice next Monday. The new collective bargaining agreement requires that players get four consecutive days off during their bye week.
Steelers vs. Bengals 11/1 3⁄11
The Steelers defeat Cincinnati, 24-17, Sunday November 13, 2011 at Paul Brown Stadium.
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’ defense unfazed by noise, believes in potential
- Healthy defensive back Mitchell eager for 2nd season with Steelers
- Rossi: Steelers’ tarnished Bell rings true
- Steelers notebook: Blake gets outside shot in nickel
- Steelers’ Brown: Attendance ‘never a doubt’ for offseason workouts
- Tomlin gives suggestion Steelers won’t be shy about going for 2
- NFL notebook: Broncos left tackle Clady tears ACL, likely out for season
- Steelers safety Holliman is real enigma
- Steelers’ Heyward looking to stay for long haul
- Steelers notebook: LB Harrison open for larger role
- Former Steelers kicker Reed doesn’t like new NFL PAT rule