Ever since he was drafted, it’s been obvious that Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds plays much better on the left side than he does the right. With starter LaMarr Woodley sidelined by a calf injury this past Sunday in the win over the Detroit Lions, Worilds took full advantage of his extra playing time on his way to registering a sack, four quarterback hits and seven total tackles. So, will Worilds continue to get work on the left when Woodley returns to the lineup? Rehabbing linebacker Larry Foote said Tuesday during a radio interview that he believes that topic is up for discussion.
“When Woodley gets back, there’s going to be some discussion,” Foote said during his interview on 93.7 The Fan. Is Woodley going to move over [to the right]? Are they going to alternate a little bit? I know Woodley doesn’t mind wherever he rushes at. Some guys only rush good from one side.”
Foote was then asked if that was indeed going to be the plan moving forward.
“I’m just assuming, I don’t know,” he said. “But I’m in the meeting room last week, after the performance against Buffalo, we were saying that when Woodley went down, Worilds went over there and he had his best game against Buffalo and he continued it this past week.”
At the beginning of training camp, linebackers coach Keith Butler was asked about Woodley potentially switching sides so that Worilds could play on the left, but he pretty much said it wasn’t going to happen even though the thought did cross his mind.
“You want a big-bodied guy over there on the left side because offenses are notoriously right-handed,” Butler said back in late July. “Most people run to the right, some people try to run to the left, but most run to the right, and we want a big body over there.”
During his Tuesday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked about the possibility of a switch.
“He has had success from the left side,” Tomlin said of Worilds play on the left side. “I am open to all possibilities in terms of moving players around to maximize our rush.”
While rookie Jarvis Jones did have an OK game Sunday against the Lions, over the last couple weeks he has made a bigger impact rushing the passer when lined up inside. Until he gets stronger, develops a bigger pass rush move arsenal and gets more comfortable in the defense, he will be a liability at the right outside linebacker position.
With the above being said, perhaps there is a chance we’ll see Woodley get some snaps on the right side Sunday against the Cleveland Browns with Worilds playing on the left. If not, perhaps a heavier rotation of the three will be used in an effort to not push Woodley too hard with him coming off of his injury. This assumes, of course, that he’ll be healthy enough this week to play. Maybe they will just rest him another week.
As for Worilds, who will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, he now has three sacks in the last three games, and his four sacks on the season are one shy of his career high of five, set in 2012. Regardless of which side he plays on moving forward, he deserves more playing time than Jones does right now.