Tomlin: Worilds is a starter going into camp

One of the top battles in Pittsburgh Steelers training camp this year is right outside linebacker, a spot where James Harrison started for the past six seasons.

As training camp opens Friday for the Steelers, the leading candidate is Jason Worilds, not first-round pick Jarvis Jones. At least, that's according to coach Mike Tomlin.

In an interview with the team's official website, Tomlin indicated that Worilds and cornerback Cortez Allen are considered starters.

"They were solid contributors a year ago to our efforts defensively," Tomlin said. "They’ve been around this program and understand the level of expectation and what’s expected. It’s their time. They’re continually ascending, or they need to be, and we’ll give them that benefit of the doubt as we go into training camp. Obviously, things are subject to change, but what they’ve done here in Pittsburgh to this point in their careers I think merits that."

It would be a surprise if Allen didn't hold onto the starting job for the 2013 season. He showed flashes of being a playmaker at the end of last season, and his biggest competition is Curtis Brown, who struggled at times last season, and William Gay, who was among the worst-rated cornerbacks last year.

There are no such guarantees with Worilds, who has been a disappointment since being a second-round pick in 2010. The Steelers obviously aren't confident in Worilds because they tried to keep Harrison at a reduced price and then used a first-round pick on Jones. No one really expected the Steelers to put Jones in the starting lineup right away, especially when you consider their reluctance to put rookies in prominent roles over the years.

I'm not saying Jones is going to beat out Worilds for the starting job. But you also can't say with any certainty that Worilds is going to be the Steelers' starting outside linebacker on Sept. 8, when they kick off the season against the Tennessee Titans.