New Castle News

Sports

August 2, 2013

Steelers linebackers look to regain snarl

(Continued)

LATROBE, Pa. —

Though Woodley is reluctant to discuss his weight, Butler estimates Woodley played at around 295 pounds over the last two years. He appears slimmer during the first week of training camp at Saint Vincent College, even if he typically hides his wide 6-foot-2 frame underneath layers of sweatshirts and shorts.

He also switched up his offseason regimen, traveling to Arizona to work out alongside Harrison, safety Ryan Clark and others. Woodley remains vague on the specifics, pointing out the major difference is the heat. Still, he stressed he feels “great” and is ready to quiet some of the criticism while understanding he’ll never be able to turn it completely off.

“I don’t worry about that at all,” Woodley said. “When they pay you the big money, the spotlight is going to be on you no matter what. Sometimes injuries slow you down (but) ... you’ve got to keep moving.”

And, Woodley hopes, moving a little more quickly.

Having some help across the field wouldn’t hurt either. Harrison and Woodley were one of the best bookend linebacker tandems in the NFL when they were able to stay out of the training room. Feeding off each other, they fueled Pittsburgh to two Super Bowl appearances in three years.

When one couldn’t play, however, offensive lines would shift their focus to neutralizing the other. The result was a team sack total that dipped to just 37.5 in 2012, the franchise’s lowest since Woodley joined the team as a second-round draft pick out of Michigan in 2007.

Pittsburgh believes it may found Harrison’s eventual heir in rookie Jarvis Jones, who led the nation in sacks last year at Georgia. Like Harrison, Jones is an instinctive pass rusher. Even better, thanks to his background as an inside linebacker, Jones is quickly grasping the intricacies of his new responsibilities in defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s 3-4 scheme.

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