Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley has towed the company line very nicely this week in regards to his playing status this coming Sunday night against the Baltimore Ravens and that certainly is to be expected. Woodley went down in the third quarter against the Patriots last Sunday like he had been shot in the back of the leg and instantly my mind raced back to Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson going down the same way against the Steelers back in week 4.
It sounds like Woodley is aggressively trying to rehab his injured hamstring and without a doubt wants to get back in time for this rematch, but the reality of it is that he could indeed hurt the team long term if he rushes back too soon. Johnson has yet to return to the Texans line-up and there is still some doubt if he will make back this week. Hamstring injuries are no joke and while of course we do not know how serious Woodley\’s injury is compared to Johnson\’s, one week is just not enough time.
By the looks of things right now, Jason Worilds could very well make his first career start at left outside linebacker in place of Woodley and while it would be foolish to expect anything close to the type of play that Woodley has provided the last 4 weeks, hopefully he can be serviceable. Worilds has had problems himself recovering from an early season quad injury and has not played since filling in for James Harrison when he went down in the game against the Texans 4 weeks ago with his eye injury.
The worst thing about the injury to Woodley is the timing of it, not that there is ever a good time. The Steelers have yet another division game next week against the Bengals on the road before finally getting their bye week. As painful as it might be to see him miss these next two games, it would likely be in the Steelers best interest to keep him out until week 12 against the Chiefs. The Steelers will still have 3 division games left at that point and need to make sure they sweep those, regardless of what happens against the Ravens and Bengals in these next 2 games.
The 9 sacks that Woodley has tallied this season is hard to ignore, but the Steelers have gone 4-0 without Harrison suited up and they can win without Woodley as well. I understand that he might feel the added pressure to return after getting the new contract this past season, but it is just not smart. He has more than shown that he deserved that new deal and now he deserves the time to get back to 100%.