PITTSBURGH -- What is turning into another underachieving season for the highest-paid defensive player in Steelers history is also providing more of an opportunity for Jason Worilds.
The fourth-year veteran is likely to make his third consecutive start at left outside linebacker Thursday night, as LaMarr Woodley is doubtful for the Steelers' 8:30 p.m. ET game at Baltimore.
Woodley has not been the same player since injuring his hamstring in October 2011. He had been on a tear before getting hurt, racking up 7 1/2 sacks in four games and winning AFC Defensive Player of the Month honors.
Since, Woodley has just nine sacks and has missed 11 games because of assorted injuries.
You have to wonder if the Steelers' patience is wearing thin with the player they signed to a six-year, $61.5 million contract in August 2011.
You also have to wonder if Worilds has emerged as viable long-term option at left outside linebacker should the Steelers, who need to shed salary in the offseason, decide to part ways with Woodley.
Worilds has come into his own this season, and the former second-round draft pick has been credited with 10 quarterback pressures and a sack the last two weeks while playing most of the snaps at left outside linebacker.
Worilds had been starting at right outside linebacker before Woodley got hurt.
'One thing that is obvious is that he's done a great job here recently of getting consistent pressure," Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said of Worilds, "and I think he's done that from both sides because we've rolled those guys around quite a bit. I think he's productive on either side."
Jarvis Jones, the Steelers' first-round pick last April, is the future at right outside linebacker, and Worilds could be playing somewhere else in 2013 as he will be an unrestricted free agent after this season.
But the more he plays at left outside linebacker, the more it looks like the Steelers may have a decision to make between Worilds and Woodley during an offseason that will again have its share of turnover.
It is shaping up as a nice problem to have.