Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley is scheduled to return to the lineup Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys after a two game absence due to an ankle injury. With his return it will mark the first time since week 5 that the Steelers defense has had Woodley, James Harrison, Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark all on the field at the same time.
A defensive reunion of sorts.
That quartette of players have only played together for 18 plays this season as both Woodley and Polamalu both left the game against the Eagles in the first half and did not return.
It has been a season of untimely injures for the Steelers this season and they still will not have their full starting defensive unit on the field Sunday in Dallas as cornerback Ike Taylor will miss his second consecutive game with a fractured ankle and his replacement Cortez Allen will also be sidelined with a groin injury.
Woodley might be spelled by Jason Worilds in his first game back, but both will get an opportunity to up against Cowboys right tackle Doug Free, who has allowed 6 sacks and over 40 pressures on the season. Harrison will get a chance to go up against second-year left tackle Tyron Smith on the other side. Smith has allowed 3 sacks so far this season and 35 pressures.
So far this season the Steelers defense has recorded just 12 turnovers and 26 sacks on defense and those numbers must start improving if this teams is going to make the playoffs and make a deep run in them.
The Cowboys offense has allowed 31 sacks entering the game and have turned the ball over 24 times in 13 games. They are prime for the picking. Anything less than 2 sacks and 2 turnovers Sunday in Dallas will likely result in the Steelers suffering their 7th loss of the season.
The Steelers defense has looked good at times this season, but never dominant. Being without Taylor again will certainly pose a challenge, but a strong game from the aforementioned quartet will ease the pressure on the young cornerbacks that will be asked to fill in this week.
Reunions usually result in happy endings and this team could certainly use one of those headed into the big game next week against the Cincinatti Bengals.