Lack Of Competition Could Lead To Steelers DE Al Woods Making 53 Man Roster Again In 2013

The Pittsburgh Steelers addressed their depth concerns at the defensive end position in the 2013 NFL draft with their selection of Samford defensive tackle Nick Williams in the seventh round. In addition to that, they also signed undrafted free agent defensive ends Brian Arnfelt and Cordian Hagans following the draft.

During the post selection press conference of Williams, Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell let it be known that the defensive tackle will be converted to defensive end and thus will be considered a project initially. With that bit of information being given, the Steelers appear to be more than comfortable with Al Woods serving as a back up to Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward in 2013.

Woods was originally drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the fourth-round of the 2010 NFL draft out of LSU, but his stay in the Crescent City was a short one as the Saints released him just prior to the 2010 season starting.

Following his release from Saints, the Steelers signed Woods to their practice squad, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed him to their 53 man roster in November of 2010. With the Buccaneers, Woods saw action in nine games at defensive tackle to the tune of just over 130 snaps and recorded 17 total tackles and a half a sack in those games.

Woods was back in training camp with the Buccaneers in 2011, but failed to make their final 53 man roster. Following his early September release he was claimed off of waivers by the Seattle Seahawks and saw action in just two games with them prior to being waived in early November.

The Steelers, who at that time were dealing with depth issues on their defensive line due to veterans Aaron Smith and Chris Hoke being injured, claimed Woods off of waivers from Seahawks, but chose not to dress him for the remainder of the season.

Last year in training camp, Woods beat out fellow defensive end Corbin Bryant to secure a spot on the 53 man roster and this lead to him seeing minimal playing time at defensive end in ten games in 2012 to the tune of 30 snaps when both Hood and Keisel needed breathers on long drives. Woods finished the 2012 season with three total tackles and appeared to hold his own in limited action.

Now that Woods has a full season underneath his belt, he will more than likely be tough to beat out of his roster spot this year in training camp. If the aforementioned Williams progresses slowly, the rookie will more than likely be destined for the practice squad and Woods will once again be asked to serve as the Steelers fourth defensive end in 2013, his final year under contract with the Steelers.

  • steeltown

    I like Woods… he’s cheap, knows the system by now and has starting experience.

    Next offseason is going to be interesting, with Keisel and Hoods contracts up and Al Woods also being UFA.. Woods might be re-signed for cheap in the offseason for depth, but its make or break in 2013 for Hood.

  • David Edward

    I think Woods is a serviceable backup and has looked better than Heyward at times. At the moment, with Hood playing below the expected level as a #1 pick, Keisel near the end of his career, and Heyward showing almost nothing in his first two years, the DE position looks to be one of major concern in ’14 if not this year. Would be nice to see Woods and Heyward step up and push Hood and Keisel this year.

  • Stephen Dale

    Woods hasn’t done much in his 3 seasons in the league. if he can’t beat out Hood, how good is he as a player ???

  • steeltown

    You expect a 4th Rd pick that was claimed off waivers before last season to beat out a former 1st Rd pick that has 3-4yrs of experience in the system??

    Woods is a serviceable backup, nothing more

  • JC

    I agree with Steeltown. It’s doubtful they signed Woods off waivers to become a starter. He’s a serviceable back up in their defense.

  • sgtrobo

    @David, you need to watch the All-22 of the first Ravens game and watch Heyward. You might change your mind.

  • steeltown

    Yep. If Ziggy fails to produce this season, they’ll be drafting DE early in the next draft, they wont be signing players off waivers to replace him

  • steeltown

    Im not overly concerned with Heyward just yet, if he’s given full reins and fails to produce over the next two seasons then I’ll change my outlook, but its far too early to gauge his ability. I think he’ll be a good one once he gets consistent playing time