Worilds of Difference Expected in 2013
By Mike Prisuta
Posted Jul 2, 2013
The Steelers are minus three starters from a season ago, but the defensive questions as they relate to the starting 11 mostly revolve around just one guy.
And that guy isn’t Cortez Allen or Steve McLendon.
“James (Harrison) and ‘Hamp’ (Casey Hampton), those guys were here for a long time, a big reason why we were able to add to the Lombardi room upstairs,” Brett Keisel said this spring. “Their presence is going to be missed. But it’s an opportunity, and these guys like Jason (Worilds) and Steve, that’s what they’ve got, an opportunity. They have big shoes to fill, but obviously (the coaches) feel like they can carry the load.”
Keisel didn’t even address Allen taking over for Keenan Lewis at cornerback, probably because the faith in Allen’s ability is widespread on the South Side, and because Lewis’ breakout season as a starter last season was so surprising.
There’s also widespread optimism regarding McLendon taking over on the nose, but Hampton was so good and so important for so long that his successor simply cannot be rubber-stamped as the next big thing in the middle.
McLendon, like Allen, has shown some nice flashes in relatively limited action, but both are going to have to establish that they’re consistently up to the challenge.
Worilds is going to have to first prove that he’s worthy as a replacement for James Harrison, and then prove it on a week-to-week basis. And Worilds has yet to do either in three seasons with the Steelers.
His career to this juncture has been characterized mostly by either injury, indifference or both. Worilds has also shown some nice flashes with 8 sacks in 10 career starts.
But even as he was flashing last season, he was likewise exasperating. Worilds had 5 of his sacks in 2012, but accounted for just 4 special-teams tackles.
He gets first shot at Harrison’s job not because Worilds has established through his search-and-destroy play in the kicking game that the Steelers simply have to get him on the field somewhere, but because he’s the best option available at present.
Of course, that situation is subject to change after the drafting of Jarvis Jones in the first round in April.
Off-the-record expectations expressed during the spring sessions assessed that upcoming position battle thusly:
* If Worilds consistently plays the way the Steelers believe he’s capable of playing, he’ll start all season.
* If Worilds plays the way he has in his first three seasons, Jones will be starting after the bye week.
The examples established by two of Worilds’ teammates last season could prove influential, providing Worilds has been paying attention.
Lewis was in pretty much the same position last season, that of an underachiever who had yet to live up to the post-draft hype and expectation entering the last year of his contract. But Lewis embraced the opportunity that came his way and played well enough to get paid.
And Harrison didn’t become a full-time starter until 2007, his fourth full season with the team and the season in which linebackers Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley had been drafted in the first and second rounds.
That latter example has been relayed to Worilds repeatedly by Larry Foote.
“I told him I remember when Joey Porter left and they went out and drafted Lawrence Timmons,” Foote said. “Initially, they drafted him to be an outside linebacker. They overlooked James Harrison. They didn’t know what he could do, he hadn’t played that much.
“James stepped in that first year and took off and he wasn’t looking back. I told (Worilds), ‘That’s gotta be your same approach.’”
That’s gotta be Worilds’ approach because Harrison has to be replaced by someone, and because that has to happen before Woodley can become Woodley once again after amassing one fewer sack (four) than Worilds in 2012.
Other than all of that, it’s business as usual for the Steelers at outside linebacker.
A Worilds of difference, indeed.
All I know is that since 2004 the Steelers have a regular season record of 17 and 1 when Hampton was not the starter.
Steelers all time best record in 2004 (15-1) when Casey missed 10 games UNDEDFEATED in those 10 games Casey missed.
Beat BOTH SB teams without Casey, ended with the leagues number one defense without Casey.
While we know Casey was better than Hoke, the above indicates to me that Casey, who EVERY Steeler fan insists is "underappreciated" (how's that when he is a 5 time probowler) is overrated by us.
Our actual success seems to depend little on whether he plays or not. Statistically, we have had MORE success when he is out.
Just in case you are STILL not convinced.
2008 Steelers Ravens.....Casey is out:.
Harrison had 11 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, and created the fumble that was returned by Woodley (who had 1.5 sacks himself) for the game winning TD.
Timmons ALSO had a sack that game. No Casey and the LBers had 5 sacks.
What made Casey so valuable again?
I think for some of these guys, health is going to be the key factor. Can Worilds, Sanders, the Oline, etc stay healthy? If so I think we have some players and could be the big surprise of the season.
Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Battles: Jarvis Jones vs Jason Worilds
By Kyle Curry on July 12, 2013
Arguably the biggest off-season move for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013 was the loss of James Harrison. Harrison and the Steelers could not agree on a pay-cut for the veteran linebacker, which led to his release. Harrison, now a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, will play his old team twice a year and has left a large hole to fill on the Steelers roster.
That task of replacing Harrison will be up to two young players that are in two very different places in their NFL careers. Jason Worilds is hoping for his first chance to start with the Steelers in his fourth year with the team. His competition will be rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones, who wants to be the first linebacker to start on the Steelers defense as a rookie since Kendrell Bell in 2001.
Up to this point Worilds has been looked as a bust. The Steelers drafted him in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft and he has been playing as a back-up to Harrison and LaMarr Woodley ever since. However, an injuries to Woodley last season gave Worilds the opportunity to step into the lineup and he played rather well.
During the 2012 season Worilds started three games and filled in for multiple other games when Woodley left injured. He finished the season with 422 total defensive snaps compared to Woodley’s 621. Statistically Worilds finished with 27 total tackles and five sacks compared to Woodley’s 38 tackles and four sacks.
That means that Worilds recorded a tackle every 15 plays he was on the field, one less than it took Woodley. He also recorded a sack every 84 snaps, which was almost twice as fast as it took Woodley, who averaged a sack only once every 155 snaps.
The hope is that with more playing time Worilds will continue to improve, but he has some bigs shoes to fill in the absence of James Harrison. Worilds also isn’t alone in the race for the right outside linebacker position with first round pick Jarvis Jones now in the mix.
Typically first round picks are brought in to compete right away and make an impact. Problem is, not many rookies, no matter what round they were selected, have started or made much of an impact in the Steelers defense in recent history.
Jones will try to change that as the Steelers get prepared for training camp, but the odds are against it happening. He may have a bit of a head start after playing linebacker at Georgia in a 3-4 defense. Many outside linebackers in the Steelers system are converted 4-3 defensive ends, so Jones has less of a conversion to make.
However, he will have to show that he can not only rush the passer, which he was well-known for in college, but also control the edge in the run game and cover in the passing game. During his two years at Georgia Jones totalled a staggering 28 sacks, but he will be asked to do much more than just rush the quarterback now that he is in the NFL.
His ability to get to the quarterback will not be overlooked, though, if he doesn’t win a starting job there is still a good chance he will be seen as a situational pass rusher. Aldon Smith, who is becoming one of the top defensive players in the NFL, didn’t start a single game his rookie year, but was used as a situational rusher and recorded 14 sacks.
Jones may be used in that type of role in 2013 where he is moved around and set free on the quarterback.
Even so, it is his goal to be a starter from day one and when the Steelers report to training camp in a few weeks he will get a chance to do just that.
It’s hard to say right now who will be the Steelers starting right side linebacker when the season starts in September, but you’d have to think the edge goes to the veteran Worilds. Hopefully both players have healthy and productive seasons, though, because the Steelers pass-rush was lacking in 2012 and having a successful defense starts up front.
The other point worth noting is Hoke may have been the best backup in the history of the NFL that never became a full time starter.
And the final point could be DL's system works. Although that may make some heads explode
Steelers notebook: Top pick Jarvis Jones anxious to put on pads
By Gerry Dulac / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Today is a big day for many of the Steelers rookies because it is the first time the coaches and players will get a look at them in pads.
And it should be a big moment for Jarvis Jones, their No. 1 draft choice.
All the Steelers - coaches and players alike - are eager to see the outside linebacker from Georgia in pads, something they haven't been able to do since they made him the 17th overall pick in the NFL draft.
"It's like the first day of school," coach Mike Tomlin said. "Checking in here and getting on the grass is one thing, don't get me wrong. But football is a game played in pads and [today] is the first day of school."
And Jones is eager to show his teammates what he is capable of.
"Those are the guys I'm going to be on the field with," Jones said. "First and foremost, I got to build their trust and be with those guys through thick and thin. The coaches call the plays and put you in position to make plays, but your teammates are the ones going to go to war with you. I have to build trust in my teammates and have them know I got their back and they got my back."
Jones reported to camp weighing 248 pounds but said he expects to put on weight in training camp. Still, he might have to add a little bulk to handle left tackles in the NFL.
Jones has already impressed teammates with his speed and athleticism. Now they want to see that power and explosiveness he showed at Georgia when he puts on pads today in the afternoon practice at Saint Vincent College.
"I'm going to have a learning curve, I'm going to make some errors, I'm going to have to take those process steps," Jones said. "I'm doing a good job of taking the process slowly and learning. [Linebackers coach Keith Butler] is doing a good job of implementing the playbook and putting me in the playbook. And my teammates, all the guys help me when I'm on the field. It's been going well since I've been here."
With Jones and Jason Worilds slated to replace James Harrison at right outside linebacker, Chris Carter will move to left outside linebacker behind LaMarr Woodley. Carter, a fifth-round pick in 2011, started the first three games of the regular season in 2012 when Harrison and Worilds were injured.
Carter is eager to see Jones perform in pads.
"He has a lot of athletic ability, a great player," Carter said. "He's a real cool, humble guy. I'm excited to see what he does once we get these pads on."
A clean slate from 8-8
Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert spent a good portion of the offseason talking about how the Steelers went 8-8 and weren't going to hide from that.
On several occasions, Colbert even talked about the departure of several key veterans, dismissing them as players from an 8-8 team.
But, apparently, there will be no more references to the Steelers' record or discussion about the Steelers using last season's disappointment as motivation for 2013. At least from Tomlin.
"I'll talk about what we're doing here in camp and the development of the team, but I won't do it in reference to what occurred a year ago," Tomlin said. "It doesn't matter whether we were 8-8 or whether we won the Super Bowl. It's really irrelevant. This is not a continuation of what's gone on in the past. It's just us starting out and meeting the challenges of what this year holds for us."
Not your average interns
Three former Steelers are serving as interns at training camp, two with the coaching staff.
Former defensive end Aaron Smith is an intern with the scouting department and nose tackle Chris Hoke is an intern with the coaching staff, assisting defensive line coach John Mitchell.
Former running back Willie Parker, a two-time 1,000-yard rusher, is a coaching intern helping with the running backs. Parker, who did an internship at Division II West Virginia Wesleyan last year, wants to get into coaching.
Cornerbacks Cortez Allen and DeMarcus Van Dyke were the only casualties of two days of practices in shorts. Allen was held out of practice Sunday because of what Tomlin called "discomfort" in his knee. Van Dyke injured his hamstring toward the end of practice. Tomlin said it was too early to determine the extent of the injury.