Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley says he has lost weight during the offseason, but wanted to make it clear during an interview last week with 105.9 The X that his weight had nothing to do with his poor performance last season.
"That has nothing to do with the injuries," Woodley said during the final week of offseason practices. "I think what slowed me up last year was just the high ankle sprain. Once you have a high ankle sprain that just affects you throughout the whole year. It stops everything that you\'re doing as far as an outside linebacker, as far as rushing and trying to hold up against the run. Doing certain movements and that just held me back throughout the whole year.
"I was never 100% after that, and I couldn\'t do everything I wanted to do and definitely when you\'re playing the outside linebacker position then you got guys that weight 300 something pounds pushing on you and you\'re already trying to support your own weight; it just doesn\'t allow you to have certain moves on that ankle."
The high ankle sprain injury that Woodley refers to took place in the Week 12 loss to the Cleveland Browns, but he insists that it is completely healed now.
"It just took some time after the offseason to heal up and after that it was ready to go," said Woodley, who trained out in Arizona throughout the spring.
With the ankle now healed and ready for training camp, Woodley knows that no longer having James Harrison on the other side from him this upcoming season will mean that someone will have to step up and fill his shoes, as the 3-4 defense only works when both outside linebackers are getting pressure.
"Once you have two good outside linebackers at the same time, it is hard to block both of them," said Woodley," who registered just four sacks in 2012. "So the thing about the next guy stepping in, I think that any one of those guys can go out there can get sacks. Jason Worilds has been doing that for the past two years, been doing a great job with that, and he\'s just going to have to continue doing it. You have to earn the respect from people around the league to make the offensive coordinators start to respect you some."
As far the criticism goes that Woodley has received from both the media and the fan base this past year for his lack of production, he says that he pays it no mind.
"I don\'t let stuff like that get to me," said Woodley. "I\'ve heard people talk about me all the time throughout my whole football career, whether it was in junior high, high school or college and the professional level. I don\'t let that stuff bother me. I sit back, and I laugh at that."