Keisel Says Worilds & Carter Still Working On Grasping The Defense

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel was guest Wednesday on SiriusXM NFL Radio and he talked about the play of young linebackers Jason Worilds and Chris Carter while filling in for the injured James Harrison as well as the effect that it all has had on the play of LaMarr Woodley.

Keisel was asked specifically in the interview how Worilds has performed thus far while filling in for Harrison and the Steelers defensive end was pretty straight forward with his answer.

“He did pretty good,” said Keisel. “I mean Jason and Chris Carter, they split a lot of time, and they did pretty good. They\’re still young and they\’re still grasping the defense, especially some of our nickel and dime coverage packages. Whether they might be dropping into coverage, that\’s the hardest thing to get, you know.”

“They\’re used to just rushing the quarterback all of the time and when you\’ve got them back sorting receivers and having seem or three receiver hook, figuring those things out is what makes the defense difficult to get. Those guys are only going to get better with the game time that they were provided in this early stage.”

Later Keisel was asked about the attention that Woodley has received so far this season with Harrison sidelined and if teams will continue to pay more attention to him until Harrison proves that he is 100%.

“I think they have to account for James,” Keisel said. “Woodley has been getting doubled and sometimes tripled – and sliding the protection towards him – and that\’s what makes those two great. Because if you figure you double one, the other one is getting singled and we expect those guys to make big plays. It\’s great getting James back. He\’s a difference maker for us. He\’s a leader for us and we\’re excited to get him on the field.”

It is clear by the comments that Keisel made, as well as the play thus far on the field, that both Worilds and Carter are nowhere close to being able to fill the shoes of Harrison just yet. It is also clear that not having Harrison on the field has resulted in teams being able to pay more attention to Woodley in addition.

Both Carter and Worilds have barely sniffed the opposing quarterback this season when it comes to pressure, and the one sack that Worilds had against the Denver Broncos was a gimme. Woodley is playing his ass off, but the extra attention that he has received thus far has limited his ability greatly.

Keep in mind that Carter is basically a rookie this year thanks to the lockout last year and a hamstring injury. Worilds missed the entire offseason due to his wrist and is playing a different side than he did last year when Wooodley was out. The play of both is just not going to improve over night as it will take time and more repetitions for both of them to fully understand their roles when not rushing the passer, and improve their pass rushing abilities.

Harrison is of course slated to make his season debut this Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, assuming of course things go well the rest of the week in practice, and you can tell just how important it is that the defense gets him back on the field.

Should Harrison suffer a setback and miss any more time moving forward, you can expect that the sack and pressure numbers will remain low moving forward. It is so hard to believe how much one player means to the Steelers defense, but the quotes made by Keisel, along with the game tape, certainly do reflect that. Sure, the return of Troy Polamalu will help the defense to some degree, but like Keisel said Tuesday, both Harrison and Woodley on the field together is what makes that defense go.

  • James Warner

    How can other defenses put their rookies in on dl or lb and get some production but it is always 2-3 years with our defenses. How may rookies are starting with green bay and settlement on defense this year?

  • SteelSpine

    Good point & question, I agree. Waiting worked long ago during our D’s dominating years because our starters still had time left on their contracts so we were able to get guys later in draft or FAs who were available because they were raw. Nowadays following that looks like LeBeau is now maybe too stubborn.

  • SteelSpine

    Asking a player what he thinks of a teammate, is like asking a mother if they love their kid, of-course wasnt gonna admit anything bad.

    Re your statement that Carter is basically a rookie:
    – If he’s a rookie why’d he get paid last year.
    – He had all last season to prepare, then this offseason even before training camp the staff knew they needed a replacement starter at ROLB because had no reason to think Harrison will be healthy for most of the remainder of Harrison’s career.
    – Funny how some other players in NFL drafted in same draft as Carter, on other teams, are not failing as badly thusfar this season even tho they had the same shortened training camps last year that you’re using now to excuse Carter.

    I agree that the draftpick Carter is only in his 2nd year in NFL. But OLB is an impact position where big plays are going to fall in your lap once in a while; even a bum at OLB is gonna make a big play here or there only-because that is the OLB position. Altho I think he mightta recovered a fumble this year, thusfar this year for that starting OLB (Carter) to have zero sacks & zero tackles behind line of scrimmage & not pressure on QB in games, it’s hard to have that neglible of impact.

  • Alex K

    Carter is a freaking UDFA, how much do you expect from him?

    Worlids is a bust though. He should be doing more. I never liked him from the moment we drafted him.

  • kev4heels

    Carter is not an UDFA. He was a 5th rounder out of Fresno State.
    Although, I give him a pass as it is his 2nd year with his first coming with no offseason due to the strike.
    Worilds on the other hand has been here for what 3+ years. If he doesn’t get the defense by now, cut bait.

  • Other teams draft higher than the steelers do, more often than not the steelers are picking in the late 20s. Its better to get an extream talent that needs work at that point in the draft. Talents that are nfl ready just simply don’t stay in the board. Got lucky with pouncey would have seen the same thing with Castro for the o line because of their position g/c. However on the d line every position is considered an important position opposed to how the o line prefers tackles high in the draft.

  • BIG_Y

    I agree with almost every post here..

    Can’t imagine that Harrison – with NO work in training camp or the preseason – can step in anytime soon, much less Sunday & be effective – at least not by his standards… (Hope like hell I’m wrong & if anyone can, it’s Deebo..). If that be the case, put Worilds in there as the starter & spot him with Carter.. Worilds is a 2nd rd pick in year 3, who is apparently as healthy as he has ever been in those 3 years – it’s time to see if he is more Woodley or more (Alonzo) Jackson… (Ughh)

    Personally, I think the Worilds can play but just needs some reps. NO – he IS NOT (Nor will he be) the type of impact player that #92 is. But, it’s painfully obvious that this is JH’s last year – his body has simply broken down at age 35 & w/ his cap hit next year, not to mention Steelers track record re: 30+ OLB’s – its a no brainer.

    LOLB is the most important position in Steelers’ D. In Coach LeBeau’s D, we need to produce TURNOVERs & it all starts with the pass rush. In todays NFL – no matter how good the secondary – you simply cannot expect any D to cover WR’s for 4 seconds. That was painfully obvious vs OAK where a washed up Carson Palmer simply picked us apart with CFL WRs… (Mundy = HUGE liability, BTW) It should not come as any great shock that after 3 games, we have produced as many losses as turnovers…(2)

    AS other have mentioned, see if Worilds can play or cut bait… Either way Steelers will definitely be looking at S, ILB, & OLB as top priorities next year IMO..

    On a side note: Maybe they should have asked “The Beard” about or if he’s even seen Lawrence Timmons anywhere b/c I sure as hell haven’t… (Certainly not MAKING A TACKLE…)

  • SteelSpine

    Carter was drafted, 5th round.

  • SteelSpine

    I agree with all that Y. An item I’ll add is a drawback to our current situation mighta been offenses able to double-team Lamar Woodley, Woodley seems to be doing it all for the front 7. As to next draft I agree top priorities S & OLB.

    I’m not thinking ILB high priority next draft tho. Because whether I like it or not, Timmons is signed. As to our other ILB position, next year Sly will again try to push Foote into retirement, & I think Brandon Johnson will get a chance to compete for that also, & the staff (not me) might think Spence can play ILB next year. So I’d use that pick for a more desparat need. For example we actually need to draft 2 safeties next year insteda one. Because dunno how long Polo or Ryan Clark will be playing for us, & we’re seeing we have zero backups at either safey position.