Steelers DE Al Woods Is Going In The Right Direction

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Al Woods is an example of a draft pick that may have been give up on too quick by the team that drafted him. While it was only one preseason game, the LSU product was the defensive star Saturday night in the preseason opener against the New York Giants.

Woods was originally drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the fourth-round of the 2010 NFL Draft, but released by head coach Sean Payton right before the start of the regular season.

“You\’re hopeful for all your draft picks,” Payton said in September of 2010. “I think the mistake is maybe hanging on to them or not recognizing some of the deficiencies and all of a sudden you go two or three years into that. He did some things on a positive note that were encouraging and yet ultimately we didn\’t feel confident enough with where he was at right now and we went a different direction. We\’ve tried to hold true and really evaluate the players once they get here and he was an example of that.”

After he had cleared waivers, the Steelers signed Woods to their practice squad and defensive line coach John Mitchell started the process of turning the defensive tackle into a 3-4 defensive end. Unfortunately, that process was interrupted in November of that season when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Woods off the Steelers practice squad.

Woods stayed with the Buccaneers until just before the start of the 2011 season when he was again waived. This time, however, he was claimed off waivers by the Seattle Seahawks only to be waived by them in November of 2011. The Steelers saw the perfect opportunity to get Woods back in the fold at that point and claimed him waivers. At the time, they had already lost defensive end Aaron Smith and nose tackle Chris Hoke for the season, but it still didn\’t result in any playing time for Woods, as he was inactive for the remainder of the season.

Last year was the first time that Woods was in training camp with the Steelers and he beat out Corbin Bryant for the final defensive end spot on the roster. Winning that roster spot, however, didn\’t result in much playing time for Woods as he only played 30 snaps over the course of ten different games.

Saturday night against the Giants, all of the work that Mitchell has put in with Woods appears to be taking hold as the 300-pound-plus defensive lineman led the team with nine total tackles. Woods also used his hands and arms very well during the game in effort to keep himself free in order to make plays or clog up running lanes.

This upcoming season, the Steelers will likely look to Woods to help spell Ziggy Hood from time to time at left defensive end. In addition, Woods received work as the second-team nose tackle over the course of the summer, so it would not be surprising to see him used in some emergency situations there.

I bet the Steelers are glad the Saints decided to go in a different direction with Woods as his arrow is currently pointing in the direction of up for them. Hopefully it stays that way.

Steelers Giants Al Woods Sack Animated gi

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Marcus

    I wonder if there were no outside influences (draft status, contracts) would Al Woods be a starter?

    There are 2 first rd picks on D-line, and the best 2 lineman are a 7th rd pick in Kiesel and UDFA in Mclendon.

    If Woods continues to outplay Ziggy I think he should get a shot.

  • dgh57

    I was surprised how Al Woods played he really looked good. Now lets see if this can continue as I’m sure he’ll see better talent as the preseason moves on. If so look out Ziggy! We need more production out of the DE position and hopefully Woods is the man!

  • Shannon Stephenson

    He had 1 good preseason game which is encouraging but lets not anoint him King of England quite yet

  • Kolie Oak

    How Ironic!!!!!
    We lose Keenan to the Saints, but they give up on Woods!!!!!
    All Woods is now a Steeler!!!!!!

  • Kolie Oak

    Did you not see how he Big Snacked his way past the All Pro Giants offensive line??????
    C’mon the dude is a Stud.

  • steeltown

    It is nice to know we seemingly have more depth then originally thought… both Woods and Ta’amu stood out more in this game than any of the anointed starters. I sure hope the trend continues. Would love to have Big Boy Ta’amu backing up McLendon and Woods as the ultimate (Hoke) swing DLineman

  • steeltown

    I knew there was a reason they reclaimed this guy off waivers and kept him on the 53man roster.. they saw some potential there.. Lets hope it continues

  • Shannon Stephenson

    lol…hope you are right. :)

  • Mike.H

    Al woods is RELENTLESS. 6 solo +3 assist tackles for a Dlineman; that’s unheard of. Others might want to emulate his work ethics, his drive…

  • sean mcmartin

    What Sean payton said in this article applies to the Steelers as well. Ziggy Hood is a bust . They have held on to him too long already, He is average and the D-line needs more than average players to bring the Blittzburgh Steelers back to par.

  • Intropy

    It’s a good question. Based on just what I’ve seen I’d still have to say no. I think you’d see Keisel, McLendon, Heyward backed up by Woods, Ta’amu, Hood with Woods coming in before Hood on either side.

  • Intropy

    Unfortunately you don’t have to be King of England to be better than Ziggy Hood.

  • Kolie Oak

    Couldn’t of said any better…

  • Kolie Oak

    Actually to Ziggy’s defense, there was nobody else the Steelers could of drafted.
    The 2009 draft was definitely hit and miss.
    After Mack and Wood they were screwed…

  • Brendon Glad

    He is a great example of why I love Steelers pre-season football. He flashed late last year in the pre-season with a dynamic burst on that sack-fumble play…and stayed under the radar for the season…NOW he flashed again in a BIG WAY. We all know, as fans who have become accustomed to the concepts of “Steeler-3-4-defense”…that we are not to expect our 2-gapping D-linemen to make a lot of plays.
    So when Woods does THAT 6 tackles 1 sack…right? And without sacrificing the integrity of the defensive scheme…that is a BIG deal. Biggest deal of August so far.

  • Brendon Glad

    Isn’t it fun to watch guys who just “want it”? Want a taste of a new life? I saw James Harrison want it, and take it…I saw Nate Washington want it and take it…I saw Willie Parker want it, and take it…and many more, of course….but I always find a soft-spot in my heart for the guys who kind of come into their first camps with the Steelers as “bodies”…and just refuse to be denied.
    Al Woods was not high on the radar last training camp….he flashed enough to stick around. And maybe, just maybe, he hung around long enough to “blossom” like James Harrison and Willie Parker did. I LOVE when that happens. It’s so cool…both for them personally, and for me as a Steelers fan.

  • sgtrobo

    nah. we had desperately glaring needs at OG and C and there were still extremely good late 1st/early 2nd round talent there.

  • Brendon Glad

    I doubt it, Marcus. They may be WRONG, but I don’t think it’s on-purpose.
    But as I always do…I acknowledge that even though I know a lot about NFL football…the 3-4 DE is the absolute most difficult for me to grasp as a whole.
    So when I hear Tyson Jackson sucks in KC…or Ziggy Hood is a bust in PGH…or Aaron Smith is one of the greatest DL in Steelers history…yeah, I can put them in order correctly…but the nuances which make their evaluations SO different in the NFL world…I have yet to fully grasp.

    But I DO know this…i’ve learned enough about Steelers-3-4 Defense to know that when a DL plays 2 quarters and gets 6 tackles and a sack…it’s a DANG big-deal, preseason or Super-Bowl. So Al Woods made a HUGE statement last night.

  • Kolie Oak

    Who???
    There was no way Unger was going in the 1st, besides that nobody knew his talent.
    The only other guy was Andy LeVitre, I remember his stock being able to play all 3 positions, but again no way he was going in the 1st

  • http://www.amazon.com/The-Sibyl-Reborn-ebook/dp/B009KNQHSM James P. Kelly

    The Giants two best D-lineman, Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck, missed yesterday’s game, and Giants websites are berating the play of their replacements specifically and the “poor” play of their defensive lines in general (1st, 2nd, and 3rd teams..I’d hate to see ‘good’ third-teamers if the Giants’ 3rd defensive lineman were ‘poor,’ and so–I bet– would John Parker Wilson). If our back-up offensive lineman got manhandled by inferior scrubs, we’re badly facing a depth crisis on the offensive line. Moreover, we might temper our glee over the supposed success of our 1st team running game until we face a first team defense.

  • Kolie Oak

    Man so true!!!
    Its a good problem to have…
    It sucks we can only carry 1 or 2 of these hungry LB, WR, or DL!!

  • Brendon Glad

    Yeah, Kolie Oak…it’s definitely a good problem to have.

    Of course I love the seasons…because the Steelers always bring it…but that’s obvious…for all of us…

    For me personally, I REALLY love Steelers preseason, in a big and “low expectation/high-reward” way.
    If we didn’t have EXCELLENT scouting/personnel people, it would be far less fun. But we do…so I greatly enjoy watching young unheralded “Steeler-camp-bodies” say, “BODY-THIS!!!!” And become names on our Steeler-Nation-tongues until the end of time. LOVE IT!

  • Brendon Glad

    Who is lauding the Steelers O-line on here? Al Woods plays defensive line.
    You only have to have been a fan for about 15 years to know that Steelers O-line is never something to get cocky about. And I don’t think anyone is…
    But that still has zero to do with Al Woods.
    Not catching your drift in this thread.

  • Gautama Om

    The 2013 DL is just as good or better than the LB’s. That’s a huge plus because that’s where a good defense starts. LB’s and DB’s are nothing without them.

  • Gautama Om

    Nonsenes. Hood looked really good in this game against the Giant’s starters (definitely better than Heyward). While Woods was dominating, he was playing against the 2nd stringers. Sorry but you are way wrong about Woods being better than Hood.

  • JohnnyV1

    I was impressed by Woods in last night’s game, along with Alameda. And Arnfelt seems to hustle also. No caps!

  • steeltown

    As far as I know he had 6solo tackles, 3assist tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack and 1 QB hit

    Very Impressive.. preseason or not

  • steeltown

    At that point in the game (when JPW was in the game) we had guys like Batiste who we just signed and who is merely a camp body playing LT

    In all reality, I think Beachum, Malecki and Cheadle played well, they struggled some in run blocking but they played well, neither Gradkowski nor Landry Jones was sacked

  • GNG

    Before we start saying Woods should be playing over Ziggy, lets give Heyward a chance. I still feel that Heyward can be a strong force on the D-Line with Mclendon and Keisel.

  • Gautama Om

    Mclendon looked good as well clogging up the middle, taking double teams and single-handedly penetrated their starting OL on one play.

  • http://www.amazon.com/The-Sibyl-Reborn-ebook/dp/B009KNQHSM James P. Kelly

    Ah…sorry, Brendon. I didn’t realize that comments were restricted to topics at hand. If I’m unsure in the future regarding the appropriateness of my potential scribbles, I’ll shoot you an email for your permission to post them. :<)

  • sean mcmartin

    I have said this in many posts and describe it as being hungry and volatile. Last year This was lacking. If you don’t know what I mean. Go back and watch the Blittzburgh Steelers D-line that would push the line of scrimmage back even while holding their gaps. Or watch the Niners play defense. Giving up harrison was a huge mistake. he had the volatile spark..noone else does, not a trait tomlin goes after apparently.

  • sean mcmartin

    There was a guy named faneca who brought some lauding to the o-line equation. Miss him too. Decastro and Pouncey might be a great upcoming tandem.

  • WIINGY

    He might not of lived up to being a first round pick, but he’s good enough to make the team and start. Although he better bring it this pre-season with Heyward and Woods knocking on the door.

  • Fu-Schnickens

    It does suck, but look at the positive side. With Plaxico’s injury, it solved a problem for everyone involved – Plax is out and another promising young guy (like J. Brown) steps up to supply some fresh talent for this team. Exciting! Also, these guys who got after it yesterday serve notice for the starters so that vets can’t hang around acting like prima donnas. All the way around wonderful.

  • steeltown

    Very true

  • Marcus

    This is true about, Woods did go up against 2nd string players. There were reports last year out of camp that he dominated DeCastro, and then again this year apparently he embarrassed Gilbert. I’m just saying I think the depth should be evaluated by merit, and the best player should play. At the very least he should be given a legit chance against 1st string competition. I don’t think that point can be argued. I think he has earned it.

  • Gautama Om

    To say “Woods outplayed Hood” when he went up against 2nd stringers while Hood did very good against starters is an OPINION. Not a fact. Or rather a GUESS that Woods will put up the same numbers vs. the Giants starters. You’d have a point if they both played against the Giant’s starters but that’s not the case. It’s almost a different League comparing starters vs. 2nd stringers who (some) might not make the Giant’s team. What would happen if the starting Steelers DL went up against the Steelers 2nd string OL? See the word “destroy” in the dictionary. Case closed.

    Not saying Woods isn’t going to be a good player but temper you enthusiasm a little. Think before you throw out nonsense like Woods is better than Hood. Woods should get a shot as starter only if Hood or Keisel is not up to standard. Same thing with the Jarvis Jones bandwaggon. Wait and see.

  • Gautama Om

    Agree. Happens every year some rah rah Steelers fans go nuts over some player while not looking deeper into the situation. Nobody’s saying Woods is a bad player. He could possibly do well if he faces opposing OL’s starters (albeit not as as well vs. 2nd stringers). But lets wait and see.

    I do like that Woods has MONSTER arm lengths of 36″. You can do a lot with those tentacles.

  • Gautama Om

    Agree with everything Kolie Oak said. Colbert, however, could have either traded up for Mack or down for Unger. Hood was a reach or “forced pick” because of need at DE. Instead he waited to trade up with his 2nd round pick for Unger which failed. Clear indication that they thought Unger was a reach at pick 31; not realizing Hood is a reach as well.

    Still think Hood is going to be at least a solid 3-4 DE. He’s done great considering that he’s a mismatch in the 3-4. He was handicapped in the first place. Most one dimensional 4-3 DT’s would have failed by now but not Hood keeps improving in an uphill fight every year. Hood I salute you.

  • Marcus

    Why don’t you actually read what I’m saying instead of putting words in my mouth. I never said Woods is better than Hood. I said he deserves a shot to against first string competition.

    Hood has never “destroyed” at any level even when he was a backup going against 2nd stringers. PFF also ranked him as one of the worst 3-4 D-ends in league. That is a fact and not my opinion. They also gave Woods a 4.0 rating on Saturday which was the highest rating of any player who played.

  • Gautama Om

    I did read what you said and you said “Woods outplayed Hood” which can’t be true because starters vs. 2nd stringers or soon to be released player is totally different. Exaggeration but this is like saying Jarvis Jones outplayed Woodley last year because he had 14sacks vs. Woodley’s 4 sacks. You’re comparing different levels of competition. Same with comparing play vs. starters or vs. backups/cut players. I’m surprised I have to spell this out. Now go away unless you have something tangible to say.

  • Marcus

    Oh my God will you go away. All you have done is say the same thing over and over. Go get a life and stop trolling message boards. He has out played him. Hood isn’t good. Even before he was a starter and played against 2nd stringers he never played as well as Woods did last Saturday.

    The only time you should open your mouth is so that you can insert a gun.