Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley has taken a lot of criticism during the offseason since being called out by an anonymous teammate for being out of shape last year. So far during the preseason the former second-round draft has started to quiet his critics in his 22 plays worth of playing time.
Woodley has claimed it was an ankle injury that bothered him the most last season and not his hamstrings, but his play Monday night against the Washington Redskins showed that whatever was ailing him certainly isn\’t ailing him right now.
There were three plays that featured Woodley that stood out the most to me when going back through the game and below is a quick breakdown of each of them.
On an outside zone pitch by the Redskins offense to right early in the game, Woodley is first pushed by tight end Fred Davis while he is trying to engage tight end Logan Paulsen. Woodley holds the edge and even drives Paulsen back a little, which forces Redskins running back Alfred Morris back inside to help. The play resulted in just a two-yard gain.
On the Redskins next possession, Woodley uses great hand placement and leverage to effectively drive right tackle Tyler Polumbus back into the pocket via a bull rush for a sack on third down. Those hamstrings and ankles look really good in the isolation gif.
On the third play, Woodley is asked to drop into coverage, and he does a great job at staying home on the backside of the misdirection play to the left and effectively picks up Davis trying to sneak out the back door for an easy pitch and catch to move the chains. Quarterback Kirk Cousins is still able to run for the first down, but that is mostly because inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons over pursued a little on the play. Why Cousins didn\’t just hit a wide-open Santana Moss, I do not know, as he wound up out of the game for good with a foot injury after being hawked down by Timmons.
These three plays feature the kind of things that Woodley was effective at doing prior to him getting inured halfway through the 2011 season. He looks healthier than ever right now, and we hope he stays that way. I wonder if Mr. Anonymous agrees.