LaMarr Woodley embraces new role

PITTSBURGH -- One of the highest-paid players in franchise history is also a rotational player for the foreseeable future.

And LaMarr Woodley is just fine with that.

“It went great,” Woodley said of the thee-man rotation the Steelers used Sunday at outside linebacker. “It gave everybody an opportunity and gave everybody an opportunity to rest up to make sure we can go out there and play in the fourth quarter.”

Jason Worilds and rookie Jarvis Jones are sharing time at right outside linebacker. When the Steelers rest Woodley, Worilds moves over to left outside linebacker.

It was suggested to Woodley that a player with his contract -- he signed a six-year, $61.5 million deal in 2011 -- and pedigree should be on the field for any critical third down.

But the seventh-year veteran does not see it that way.

“I believe in Jason Worilds and I believe in Jarvis Jones,” said Woodley, who recorded the Steelers’ only sack in a 16-9 loss to the Titans. “I know what kind of pass-rushers these guys are so if they’re out there those guys can get [to the quarterback] as well.”

Neither one is in Woodley’s class as a pass-rusher though Jones has shown tremendous promise and needs to be on the field. But I agree with Woodley that it is not a big deal that he may be on the sidelines at times when the Steelers have to get after the quarterback.

His hamstring issues have been well-documented, and Woodley has not been the same player since getting hurt in a 2011 game against the Patriots.

Woodley had been on a tear prior to that injury.

He notched 7.5 sacks in four October games, earning AFC Defensive Player of the Month for his efforts. Few things would help the Steelers more than if Woodley, whose 53 career sacks are eighth-most in team history, can approach that dominance again.

Keeping him fresh may be the key to Woodley staying healthy. And staying healthy will be the biggest factor in whether Woodley can regain the form that made him one of the top pass-rushers in the NFL just two seasons ago.