Al Woods Playing Some Nose Tackle During Steelers First OTA Session Of 2013

With the first Pittsburgh Steelers OTA session of the 2013 season now in the books, Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review listed Isaiah Green, Will Johnson, Al Woods, Kelvin Beachum, and Adrian Robinson on Twitter as his “winners” of the week.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Kaboly\’s tweet is the fact that that he listed Woods as a nose tackle and not a defensive end. That is pretty surprising and caught me off guard.

Woods, who has been on the Steelers roster ever since he was claimed off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks in November of 2011, played only 30 snaps in ten different games for the Steelers in 2012 at left defensive end. During that brief playing time, he logged three total tackles with two of them being counted as assist.

Being as Kaboly listed Woods as a “winner”, it would lead you to believe that he saw quite a few snaps during the week at the nose tackle position. In fact, one could speculate that Woods was possibly even running with the second team ahead of both Alameda Ta\’amu and Hebron Fangupo, although we don\’t know that for sure.

Woods is currently listed on the Steelers official website at six foot, four inches and weighing 307 pounds. Now, we all know how inaccurate those listings often are, but that aside, Woods has never struck me as having the right build to play nose tackle in the Steelers 3-4 defense. In addition, I have always viewed him as just a one gap defender and not a plugger.

While this is certainly worth noting, it is way too early to read too much into it. In fact, it could just be Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell attempt to send both Ta\’amu and Fangupo a message early on in the off-season that neither have earned the right to be second string nose tackle just yet. On top of that, Mitchell might also be trying to see how much position flexibility that Woods actually has.

We will monitor this over the course of the remaining OTA sessions and mini camp, but I would be pretty shocked if Woods winds up staying at that position when the team opens up training camp.

As far as the other winners that Kaboly listed go, it is good to see that Robinson is impressing early on. I believe I read somewhere that he was playing on the right side this week behind Jason Worilds while Chris Carter was backing up LaMarr Woodley on the left side. Despite having a lot of technical flaws last year during the preseason, Robinson sure was getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, albeit against players that are more than likely now moving furniture for a living.

Green, a five foot, ten inch cornerback out of Fresno State, was added to the off-season roster back in December of 2012. He was originally signed by the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent last off-season and wound up spending time on the practice squads of both the Bills and the Indianapolis Colts. Although he\’s fast, he really will have a hard time making the Steelers 53 man roster. His best case scenario might be the practice squad.

Johnson had a great training camp last year and followed it up with a better than average season as the Steelers starting fullback. It\’s not too surprising that he is impressing again.

As far as Beachum goes, I wrote about him in a previous post as he is attempting to become the Steelers ultimate swing offensive linemen in 2013.

  • dgh57

    Now this I didn’t see coming!!!

    Maybe they want Woods to be the ultimate swing man on the defensive line!! Like Beachum is of the O-Line! We all know how the Steelers value position flexibility!

  • SteelersDepot


  • dgh57

    Yes, I know it could be to provide more competition at NT (because there is no 3td string NT on the roster)but you said it yourself he doesn’t have the stature or is he the plugger needed to play the position!(I agree) To me they’re just experimenting with this idea so unless he’s practicing at the next OTA at NT, I wouldn’t make to much out of this!

    So am I closer to ripping the net?

  • SteelersDepot

    It is worth seeing if it happens again next week

  • Stephen Dale

    This is an important time for Woods as well.. He is in danger of not making the final 53 if he doesn’t stake claim to position and show real potential. Hopefully he can.

  • steeltown

    Nice.. I like hearing that A.Robinson and Will Johnson are again starting fast out of the gate.. two of my favorite new additions last season

    This is the 2nd time I’ve heard Greens name in a positive light this offseason, I think he shined at the rookie minicamp as well. I doubt he makes the roster, but he might be making a strong case for securing a spot on the PS (might be a good battle between him and Victorian)

    The Woods situation is interesting.. I wont read too much into it yet. It could be Mitchell sending a message, maybe Ta’amu and Fang came in out of shape, it could be them testing Woods at other positions to see how versatile/valuable he is now that he’s in a contract year.. maybe all of the above

  • Could not agree with you more. They were my 2 favorite underdogs to make the squad last year as well.

  • dgh57

    Yes, I also like Robinson as well. He’ll prove to Tomlin he’s more than a one trick pony this preseason!!

  • 2443scott

    what a way to get a extra de on the def-line to get after qb guess dick has a new def trick up his sleeve ….

  • Steve

    Woods is nice size for any position on the “D” line. Mitchel is feeling him out and trying to get the most of what he has.