Steelers LB Jason Worilds Chomping At The Bit To Prove He Can Replace James Harrison

When the Pittsburgh Steelers released linebacker James Harrison over a week ago, it left a void on the right side of the defense that fourth-year linebacker Jason Worilds will be asked to fill in 2013. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, who is currently in Arizona for the annual NFL owners\’ meetings, commented Sunday on the opportunity that awaits the 2010 second-round draft pick to prove that he can fill Harrison\’s shoes.

“I believe that Jason Worilds is chomping at the bit to prove he is capable of being that,” Tomlin said. “When I first got to Pittsburgh in 2007, and we had to let go of Joey Porter, there was a guy that came in my office that was ready to prove that he was capable of 900-1,000 snaps a year. His name was James Harrison.

“We will see what Worilds is capable of doing.”

Tomlin admitted Sunday that change is part of the business in regard to both Harrison and Worilds.

“I think if we all knew what James Harrison was capable of he would have played more than he did before 2007,” said Tomlin. “But that’s what this is. That’s what change does. It provides opportunities for guys to ascend and take advantage of opportunities, and to carve out a niche or a name for themselves. I think that these competitors are challenged by that or encouraged by those opportunities that change presents.”

Worilds has to prove first and foremost that he can stay on the field. In his first three seasons with the Steelers he has been slowed by hamstring and wrist problems. His wrist surgery last off-season prevented him from taking part in mini camp and training camp, but he was available for action by the time the regular season started and he dressed for all 16 regular season games.

The Steelers only recorded 37 sacks last season with Worilds getting credit for 5 of them. That 5 needs will need to turn into 12 or more in 2013 if the Steelers expect their defense to return to the same level that it was in 2010, when they recorded 48 sacks, 21 interceptions and 14 fumble recoveries. Worilds also must improve jis play against the run in addition.

In his first three seasons, Worilds has played better on the left side than he has on the right. While many suggest that fellow outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley should switch sides to allow Worilds to play on the left, that\’s just not realistic. Woodley has played his entire NFL career on the left side and that is where he will remain.

Worilds, according to Teresa Varley on, sounds like he is up for the challenge.

“My main focus has always been to get better every time I step on the field,” said Worilds. “My all around game has gotten better. I am more comfortable in my assignments, so I don’t just go out there and not make a mistake, but go out there and make a play. I have been fortunate enough to transition easily from defensive end in college to an outside linebacker. You have to know your position, where to be and how it affects the man next to you. You have to know how important it is for you to do your job and the way you do your job. I want to do the right things, at the right time and the right way.”

The right time is now for Worilds, and like Tomlin quipped on Sunday. “No pressure.”

  • CP 72

    Worilds is in a contract year and will be very motivated. If he stays healthy I can easily see double digit sacks. Then next year we will have to see if we can find enough money to resign him……..

  • Kolie Oak

    Most likely the same situation will arise for Jason as it did with Keenan.
    The difference is a good pass rusher and run stuffer is obviously more valuable than a good corner in our zone scheme.
    Jason must be pissed that were looking at Elvis today….

  • steeltown

    Exactly.. I fully expect him to have a good season.. and it is quite possible that he has a great season, but then, will we be able to afford him….

  • Cols714

    Yes we will be able to afford him. Besides Mike Wallace who wanted more money than the Steelers felt he was worth, has any star free agent left the Steelers? Nope. If Worilds plays well he’ll get a good contract from the Steelers.

    And no, Keenan Lewis doesn’t count. He was a 27 year 4 player who even in his one good year didn’t record a single interception while covering the #2 WR. Not exactly a star we lost.

  • Chris Ranieri

    I think Worilds showed glimpses of brilliance this season that made me feel more confident in his future…hopefully with Pittsburgh. I just really hope we can generate more turnovers on defense…..

  • Michael Pearce

    I think losing Keenan was much bigger than losing Wallace. Wallace was a one trick pony who did’nt show up last year. Keenan was our best CB and just getting into his prime. He did’nt have int’s but he was number one in the NFL in passes defensed. In other words; no one was completing passes on him. Wallace can be replaced with a more complete WR from this years draft. Holmes was much better than Wallace. Our CB position will be in shambles next year or two if we dont get lucky again in the draft. CB’s are’nt that easy to find, especially shut down corners.

  • steeltown

    Yes, but take into account all of the UFA’s next offseason, including Hood, McLendon, (Worilds), Clark, Dwyer, Redman, possibly Sanders and a few others. Plus, they’ll definitely be giving Pouncey an extension at that point and possibly be giving Ben an extension and maybe Miller as well (if he returns to form) plus pending how productive Cortez Allen is in ’13 they should consider extending his contract before he becomes a UFA…. lots to think about

  • Brendon Glad

    The Steelers came out O.K. I say by cutting Harrison, they have a belief in 1 of 3…Worilds, Robinson, or Carter. I have my money on Robinson to be the next excellent pass-rusher from that position. But I’ll take any of the 3.

  • Ahmad

    I just hope he doesn’t turn into the next Lewis and have a breakout contract year and then we not re-sign him. I don’t think that will happen because the Steelers value LB’s more so I’ll wait and see next year.

  • charles

    I am a big Robinson fan too. But any one will do.

  • Jazz

    Reality? I think James Harrison is starting to see that. He will be 35 by September, has not played a full season in two years, clearly slowed down in 2012, he should have taken the paycut. Hey Troy! Take noticed.