Worilds hasn’t needed to this season.
His career-high six sacks are one more than Woodley’s five. And Worilds’ 23 quarterback pressures match defensive ends Cam Heyward and
Worilds bloated his totals with two sacks, three quarterback hits and a forced fumble in the Steelers’ Thanksgiving night loss at Baltimore, a game that also included Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher being flagged three times for false starts. Worilds’ reward might be a switch back to right outside linebacker if Woodley, who has missed the past three games with a calf injury, winds up returning for Sunday’s game against Miami.
“That’s just the decision that’s been made, that I’m on the left and he’s on the right,” Woodley said.
Presumably, that has been communicated to Worilds and the message has been received.
“Sometimes on the sideline when I’m over there talking to him you don’t know if he’s listening,” Woodley said.
“Tell him I’m listening,” Worilds replied, “most of the time.”
Worilds has been a starter most of the time in this, his fourth NFL season. He lined up at right outside linebacker for the regular season opener against Tennessee but was replaced there by rookie
Worilds’ eight starts overall are just two shy of the 10 he made in his first three seasons combined.
The former second-round pick from Virginia Tech missed two games due to injury as a rookie in 2010 (knee/shoulder) and four more in 2011 (quad). Worilds also has played through wrist injury that nagged him for most of 2012, and he has played despite the presence of Jones, the Steelers’ No. 1 pick, at Worilds’ preferred position this season.
He has accepted whatever has come his way with an unwavering dedication to his craft, and he has done it quietly. And as it turns out, Worilds has been paying attention all along, with his eyes as well as his ears.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned, from a lot of players in here, a lot of vets I’ve seen throughout the years, is kind of how they stuck with it through their trials,” he said. “It kind of showed me how to go about things.
“It’s a handful of older guys –
“You have to continue to get better so that when your opportunity does come you go out there and play.”
Coach Mike Tomlin referenced Worilds recently as “a competitor,” and as “a solid, veteran guy who’s been around here and understands our culture and climate and knows that he has to step up and provide consistent play for us.”
Worilds, who had eight sacks in his first three seasons, didn’t become that overnight.
“I think that was a gradual thing,” he said. “I’d like to think that even in my past performances I’ve done well. This year I may be getting a little attention for it, but I’ve been a part of No. 1 defenses in the past. I’d like to say that my hand helped, also, my hand in the pile.”
Should he and Woodley wind up teaming up again at outside linebacker against Miami, Worilds anticipates the two working well together regardless of whatever communication issues may crop up from time to time.
“We help each other on the field,” Worilds said. “I’m telling him things. He’s not always listening to me.”