Despite never playing NT, Al Woods overtakes Ta’amu on depth chart

May 29th, 2013

The Steelers used a fourth-round pick on Alameda Ta’amu a year ago, but it appears that the team is interested in another fourth-round pick to spell first-year starter Steve McLendon at nose tackle this year – Al Woods.

The Steelers moved Woods – a 2010 fourth-round pick of New Orleans out of LSU – from defensive end to nose tackle for the start of organized team activities last week, and has aligned 6-foot-4, 307-pounder with the second-team so far.

“I welcome it and am thankful that I am getting a shot to play all three,” said Woods, who was released three times in 14 months during his first year in the league.

Woods played in 10 games last year for the Steelers at defensive end, but got on the field for only 30 snaps while playing behind Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward.

The Steelers coaching staff approached Woods during the offseason about working him at a thin nose tackle position that featured McLendon as the starter along with Ta’amu and Loni Fangupo – who have seven career snaps between them. The Steelers decided not to re-sign veteran nose tackle Casey Hampton.

“I am working all three positions,” Woods said. “Coach wants me to work all three positions so that’s what I am doing. I am just trying to help the team out anyway I can.”

Woods is very athletic for his size but has to show that he can hold up to the constant double teams by centers and guards. Woods said quickly realized one big difference in playing nose compared to end.

“Your reaction has to be faster,” Woods said. “Things down there, especially with a good center like Pouncey, happen real quick so you have to be fast.”

Woods said he has yet to take many snaps in OTAs at defensive end which means that it is likely that the staff would love to have him as a swing nose/end during game days to be able to provide more flexibility with the game day roster.

“I am listening to my coaches and when I go home, I am staying in my book trying to stay a day ahead,” Woods said. “I am trying to get comfortable with it so I don’t have to think about it and I just react to it.”

And as Mike Tomlin always says … the more you can do.

Moving around

Steelers nose tackle/defensive end has been shipped all around the league since being a fourth-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2010.

April, 27, 2010 – New Orleans draft Al Woods in the fourth round
Sept. 4, 2010 – New Orleans release Woods
Sept. 8, 2010 – Steelers sign Woods to their practice squad
Nov. 3, 2010 – Tampa Bay signs Woods to its 53-man roster
Sept. 3, 2011 – Tampa Bay releases Woods
Sept. 4, 2011 – Seattle signs Woods to its 53-man roster
Nov. 8, 2011 – Seattle released Woods
Nov. 9, 2011 – Steelers sign Woods to their 53-man roster