Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley Looking To Get Back On Track After Disappointing 2012 Season

Following a 2012 season that saw him miss three games due to injury and registering just four sacks, starting Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley is certainly under the microscope this offseason.

Woodley, who was called out by an unidentified teammate after the 2012 season ended for not being in the best of shape last year, was back in Pittsburgh on Saturday to speak at a luncheon for the P.A.C.T. Initiative and he spoke to Dan Gigler of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about his offseason training.

“My offseason is going great. I\’m looking forward to getting back with the team in a few weeks,” Woodley told Gigler. “I\’ve been training since the middle of February. … It was a disappointing season being 8-8 and not making the playoffs. It was disappointing at the end of the day.”

Woodley, who was slowed by both a hamstring and ankle last season, pointed once again to the ankle being the roughest of the two, and is focused on returning to form in 2013.

“My thing was during the season when I hurt my ankle, I said that I wanted to come back stronger next year,” said Woodley, via the report by Gigler. “Some injuries you can\’t predict or avoid, but, during the season, I said this offseason I\’d be determined to get after it.”

Despite not having the expected production for going on a season and a half now, the Steelers still decided to restructure Woodley\’s contract earlier the offseason. That restructure not only cleared necessary cap space for the 2013 season, but also showed that the organization still has confidence that their former second-round draft pick will rebound in 2013.

In 2011, Woodley was off to great start until he blew out his hamstring in the Week 8 win against the New England Patriots. Up until that point, he had registered nine sacks, but did not record another one until Week 2 last season against the New York Jets. After a hamstring injury forced him out of the Week 5 game early against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Michigan product only recorded two more sacks the rest of the season and looked like a shell of his former self.

At the urging of safety Ryan Clark, Woodley decided to train with his teammate this offseason out in Arizona at at Performance Enhancement Professionals instead of taking renown trainer Tom Shaw up on his offer to train down in Florida with cornerbacks Ike Taylor and Cortez Allen.

As far as the Steelers drafting Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft last weekend goes, Woodley says that he has indeed already reached out to his new teammate via a phone call.

“I congratulated him and welcomed him to the team and told him just to come in and learn the playbook and get ready to work.”

With veteran James Harrison now out of the picture, fourth-year linebacker Jason Worilds will likely start the 2013 season opposite Woodley and the Steelers can\’t afford to have either get off to a slow start.

For the last two seasons the Steelers have failed to get the necessary production from their outside linebackers and a rebound season from Woodley, which I expect to happen, will be a welcomed and much needed sight.

Should Woodley once again be hampered by injuries and poor production in 2013, the Steelers will once again be forced to use yet another high round draft pick on an outside linebacker in the 2014 draft. If that should happen, they still more than likely wouldn\’t be able to cut ties with Woodley next offseason because of all the dead money that would be associated with his contract termination.

The Steelers first OTA session is scheduled to take place in a couple of more weeks and you can bet all eyes will be focused on Woodley, and more importantly how he looks when he shows up for the first practice.

  • dgh57

    To have LaMarr Woodley return to form, have Troy Polamalu stay healthy, and a few rookies contribute at least something will go a long way in returning to playoff form if not the SB!! I know it’s asking a lot for all this to happen but ya have to start somewhere!

  • Matt Lipner

    A lot of fans have started to believe that a rash of injuries to important players is inevitable… I expect big years from Big Ben, Woodley, and hopefully even Polamalu

  • walter mason

    yes the problems with Woodley started in 2011.

  • dgh57

    Fans wouldn’t need to feel like injuries were inevitable if more players would only follow Ike Taylor’s lead and work ethic! Except for last season(bone injury which no amount of training can prevent) I don’t recall Ike missing any games due to injury! I think Ike will extend his playing career because of the way he takes care of himself.

  • dgh57

    Yes, the year after he received his bloated contract!!!

  • sean mcmartin

    Time will tell if losing JH to the bengals also affects Woodley’s return to form.
    As a Steelers fan I hope it does not.

  • mokhkw

    I wouldn’t compare a CB with a OLB & a Safety who spends a lot of time in the box. When was the last time Ike Taylor saw a double team on a running down or had someone cut him low?

  • mokhkw

    So 9 sacks in 10 games played in 2011 was bad? Everyone gets injured at some point if you play long enough. I dunno why people feel the need to keep hating on Woodley tbh, I also fully expect him to get healthy & have 12 sacks this year.

  • dgh57

    I would compare because hamstring injuries rarely happen with contact!(Woodley in the box) Hamstring injuries are more likely to happen when running or sprinting!(Ike Taylor outside the box) So who’s going to have hammy problems 1st? I would say Ike Taylor! I would say conditioning has a lot to do with Woodley’s hammy problems!

    Ankle sprains down in the box will happen to some players but at the same time there are 8 – 10 other players down in the box that seem to have no problems with sprains!

  • dgh57

    I guess fans see the need in not liking Woodley the same as they saw in Willlie Colon & Troy Polamalu. If you’re injured a lot fans will complain! It’s always been part of the game and always will be!

    This season if he stays healthy I say Woodley improves and gets 10+ sacks!

  • David Edward

    I look for Woodley to have a bounce back year because he knows his toughness/manhood has been challenged. Even though calling him out publicly wasn’t probably the best way to handle it, he knows that there are some in the locker room who thought he wasn’t being the best teammate by not working out hard enough. I know it would make me want to prove them wrong.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    I look for him to bounce back, too. I disagree with the notion that they will keep him if he has another poor year. No matter how committed they are from previous restructurings, investing another $8M in 2014 only puts you that much further in to the salary cap hole. If he doesn’t play well, he will be cut next year with the June 1 designation,

  • mokhkw

    I think you’ll find a lot of hamstring injuries, most notably those from the guys who play DL & LB, come from having to carry the impact & weight of a 300lb OL. It seems to me that most hamstring injuries happen in the weight room,if not immediately then later on when running after the muscles are swollen & tight. I remember running after doing heavy squats & feeling like I had 2 pulled hamstrings which isn’t surprising when you consider how the exercise targets the legs.

    Also keep in mind that a DL or LB will play with a hamstring problem where a DB can’t because of their need to be fast all the time. Taylor or any other DB trying to play with a bad ankle or hamstring like Woodley had last year would not have been on the field. By contrast, Jack Youngblood played a SB with the same leg fracture that Taylor had last season.

    A broken finger for a QB or WR is big news, for a OL, DL, LB etc. it’s not even a cause for concern. In fact, they’ll likely not even mention a DL’s broken arm during a telecast but open the broadcast with news & close-ups of a QB’s swollen pinky.

    That’s the main reason I don’t compare different positions on the field when it comes to injuries. Some can play with bad wheels while others can’t & the training is vastly different given the different body types.

  • dgh57

    I had a athletic trainer with the local H.S. tell me once that if you don’t do a lot of stretching and allow a sufficient amount of time for cool downs both before and after any vigorous activity that you can expect hammy problems! It’s part of a athletes conditioning to do all these things. He also said that he sees more hamstring injuries with Track and Basketball athletes than any other sport because of all the running.

  • mokhkw

    You’ll find many reports that contradict the benefits of warming up or stretching. The Univ. Of Miami did one in the late 90s which showed that warming up or stretching before exercise did nothing to prevent injuries & proposed that most injuries were happening because of the warm-up or stretching exercises and people who didn’t stetch thier cold muscles were less likely to get injured.. It’s recommendation for warming up before exercise was to take a hot shower/bath or a sauna, thinning out the blood so it can circulate through the muscles more easily. Despite numerous studies which showed the same results we still warm-up the same way. When you think about it, going out into the cold to stretch muscles doesn’t make a lot of sense, but everyone still does it.

  • hergieburbur

    Woodley should start ice skating. It is phenomenal for ankle strength and does a bit for the hammies as well.

  • dgh57

    Yes, studies come and go but the ones that stay are the ones accepted by each states Board of Professional Physical Therapist which in turn is overseen by a higher entity. As you probably know the practices of these therapist are bound by the rules(laws) handed down by these boards. I attend a lot of Jr. High & H.S.(because of family)sporting events and I see students out warming up doing a lot of stretching so to me that tells me that’s the required routine mandated by these Boards. Each state may be different in how they apply these rules since all states have their own Boards.