Al Woods States His Case To Return To Steelers Line Rotation

By Matthew Marczi

It has been interesting watching Al Woods as the season progressed and his snap count increased from game to game, in part due to injury to either Steve McLendon or Brett Keisel and in part due to the earned trust of the coaching staff.

While his performance has at times been a mixed bag—which is to be expected from a reserve that prior to now has had only limited playing experience—he does at times display flashes of potential.

Heading into the offseason as a free agent, along with Keisel and Ziggy Hood, Woods has more than stated his case to be brought back to continue to be a part of the defensive line rotation for the Steelers.

In reality, it’s difficult to accurately assign blame on this mid-first quarter explosive run by Edwin Baker; it’s not clear if the Steelers properly executed their assignments. Based on the development of the gaps as the play evolved, it seems at least that Lawrence Timmons should have filled the gap left between Woods and the rushing Vince Williams.

Still, Woods contributed to the sizable gap that formed by allowing himself to be turned by right guard John Greco, and then proceeded to gain no penetration. Likely all three are to be blamed in part for the development of the play.

Woods did fare better for most of the rest of the game, particularly in his push against the pass, such as on the very next play. Though the pass actually connected for four yards—and the entire play was negated by a penalty on Cortez Allen—Woods got excellent push against reserve left guard Garrett Gilkey.

On the next play, he crossed the face of the right guard, in the process clanking him into center Alex Mack, in order to get penetration in the backfield on a running play. Had Cameron Heyward not already been there, he would have had himself a solo tackle for loss.

Woods also finished off the day with his second tipped pass in the last three games. With just a minute left to play, he managed to position himself between guard and center into Jason Campbell’s passing lane and got his hand up in time to make a coordinated effort to swat the ball down.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • srdan

    A batted pass is a huge play. Not only does it negate the down, but psychologically it irks linemen and QBs. It’s somethign that we did a good amount of this year.

  • dgh57

    Woods is a versatile guy who can backup anywhere across the DL and who knows maybe even start if given enough snaps to prove himself. He’s only 26, doesn’t have much wear and tear on his body, and would be cheaper to sign than Hood who looks like he’s reached his ceiling. So to me Woods has stated his case and should be factored in somehow and resigned if for nothing else because the Ziggy Hood experiment has run it’s course.

  • steeltown

    I like Woods, he’s versatile and has been productive for the most part when given the chance. He should be re-signed for relatively cheap. He’s like the next generation Hoke with more height

  • Bernie B Roten

    He might not make the roster on 31 other teams but he’s good depth for the steelers. He’s cheap and can take up space.

  • Chad H

    Solid back up who will continue to improve.

  • David Edward

    I like the progress I saw from Woods this year, and I really like that he’s NT/DE capable. While he still has plenty of work to do, I think he can become the big-body NT that many of the fans seem to be asking for. I think McClendon did a good enough job there, but if they bring Woods back, it gives them options to move McClendon out to DE or let Woods fill the open DE spot.

    Based on past history, I would assume Keisel won’t be made an offer to return. As for Ziggy, I think we’ve seen that, in 5 years, his upside is mediocrity and that’s not what you want from a #1 pick. I can’t see them committing much money to him when the wise move would be to lock up Cam long term. So, look for Ziggy to sign elsewhere with a 43 team.

  • Ron Kurimsky

    The Steelers were getting creamed in the middle until Woods stepped in and made a real big differance. I’m, 100% for bringing Woods back. I like the way he plays. And, he’s a differance maker. 5 Stars Rating here!

  • alex

    pass on Ziggy, sign Woods (duh), and Hayward (double duh), now we can breath a little better with these guys and Anrfelt and Williams behind, but whos gonna plug the hole found in 2013, Hebron?