All throughout the offseason and training camp we have heard reports of Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Al Woods receiving reps as the second-team nose tackle and Monday night in the preseason loss to the Washington Redskins the former fourth-round draft pick of the New Orleans Saints finally saw some playing time at the position.
While thorough analysis of game will be the ultimate judge, it appeared as though Woods played well after following Steve McLendon into the game. There were a few times when he was off his feet due to being cut, but against runs up the middle he appeared to two-gap well. He didn\’t record any tackles in the game, but at least the linebackers appeared to remain covered up, for the most part, so that they could do their jobs.
The Steelers are obviously seriously testing the position flexibility of Woods because of their lack of confidence in both Alameda Ta\’amu and Hebron Fangupo to back up McLendon to start the season as both have a way to go in their development.
The team will more than likely keep six defensive linemen on their 53 man roster to start the season and Woods\’ position flexibility will be the reason why they won\’t need any more than that. He showed against the New York Giants in the preseason opener that he has made progress as a 3-4 defensive end, and I suspect he will continue to get a chance to play more nose tackle in the final two preseason games so that he can further sharpen his game at that position as well.