I wrote earlier today about the mystery that surrounds Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jason Worilds and wondered if that mystery would get any clarity any time soon. Thanks now to Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review this afternoon, we have a little more information concerning the Steelers third year linebacker.
Robinson reported via Twitter today that Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler said that there\’s a chance that Worilds, who hasn\’t practiced at all this offseason, might miss all of the preseason and that the best case scenario is that he will be ready for the week 1 game against the Denver Broncos.
“Hopefully we can get him back for the last preseason game, but that may not be the case,” Butler told Robinson.
Just because Worilds might be healthy enough by then doesn\’t mean he will be able to contribute on the field though and Butler was not shy about telling my podcast co-host David Todd that in a recent interview.
Todd asked Butler a few weeks ago if Worilds being fit will help upon his return and Butler shot back to him, “Everybody can be fit, but if you don\’t know what to do, you\’re not going to help your team.”
Perhaps Robinson will have more light to shed on this in a Friday piece, but as it looks right now, both Worilds and starting right outside linebacker James Harrison are in serious jeopardy of not being able to play against Denver.
Speaking of Harrison, Robinson also had a few quotes on Twitter from Butler about the Steelers starting right outside linebacker as well. In regard to Harrison being sidelined since the first week of OTAs, Butler reportedly told Robinson, “He’s a guy who needs reps. It\’s going to be tough for him.”
Robinson also reported on Twitter that Butler told him that Harrison has been setback in his knee recovery a few times. That\’s certainly not what you want to hear.
While not confirmed by anyone in the Steelers organization, I had a source tell me Wednesday night that the scope procedure that Harrison had done on his left knee Wednesday morning consisted of a bone spur needing to be removed from behind the linebackers knee cap. Feel free to Google that.
As far as the wrist surgery that Worilds had this past offseason, Butler said back in June, “It is what they call a scapholunate diastasis to be exact.” Butler further explained the injury, “What it is, your wrist has got several bones in it and a ligament tore between those two bones, the scapho and the lunate, in the wrist. And when that happens, they\’ve got to reconstruct the ligament, and it takes time to heal to get the full range of motion.”
So now that we are getting an even grimmer picture of the availability of both Harrison and Worilds for the Denver game, it is looking more and more likely that second year linebacker Chris Carter could very well be the starting right outside linebacker against the Broncos. Carter has received all of the first team reps at the position thus far in training camp and he will make his second preseason start Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts. Carter played well last week against the Philadelphia Eagles and thankfully he appears healthy this year and no longer hampered by the hamstring problem that plagued him during his rookie season last year.
As I pointed out in a recent post, the Steelers certainly don\’t want to have to put Lawrence Timmons back outside like they had to do last year when Harrison was out for four games with a fractured orbital bone. Although Butler hasn\’t ruled that out yet, a recent quote of his via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette speaks loudly about how he hopes he doesn\’t have to.
“I prefer not to put Lawrence back outside,” Butler said via Bouchette. “But that\’s always a possibility. What we want to do is put our best people on the field regardless who they are. It\’s my job to try to make sure they\’re prepared for any contingency we might have.”
If you have read my post all offseason and are frequent listener of the podcast, you know that the outside linebacker position and lack of depth there has been a huge concern of mine for a while.
The development of Carter over the course of the remaining preseason becomes huge. We saw what happened last year when both Harrison and LaMarr Woodley were sidelined. The Steelers defense thrives on the play of its outside linebackers, especially when it comes to pressuring the opposing quarterback.
Watch Carter closely in these remaining preseason games and keep your fingers crossed that he can carry on the standard that is expected at that position. So far he has, but it\’s only been one game.