The Pittsburgh Steelers parted ways with linebacker LaMarr Woodley early in the offseason and it didn’t take him too long to find a home with the Oakland Raiders. Woodley, who missed 14 games over the past three season with hamstring, ankle and calf injuries, says his weight really doesn’t matter now that he’s a 4-3 defensive end with the Raiders.
“You know in Pittsburgh they said I was out of shape, fat anyway,” Woodley told Raiders.com. “So I didn’t have to do much at all. I’ve been this size my whole career. The only reason I weighed too much in Pittsburgh was because I was asked to chase guys like your size down the field. And now, playing defensive end, I don’t have to be, it doesn’t matter. The main thing is getting after the quarterback.”
We will likely never know whether or not Woodley’s injury issues while in Pittsburgh were related to his weight, poor conditioning or just bad luck. He was a pillar of health and producing during his first four and a half seasons with the Steelers, but once he suffered a hamstring injury against the New England Patriots midway through the 2011 season, he never seemed to ever be able to return to his old form.
Woodley played defensive end during his college career at Michigan and he never kept it a secret that he would much rather rush the quarterback instead of dropping into coverage while with the Steelers as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He’ll get his wish now that he’s with the Raiders and he said that he thinks that change plays more to his strengths.
“You know my whole life I’ve pretty much played defensive end. All through college I played defensive end, when I got drafted, that’s when I switched to outside linebacker. And I just had to make the adjustment to that. It wasn’t easy at first, now going back to defensive end is just like going back to what I’ve normally been doing.”
If Woodley can return to his old form in Oakland and stay on the field, he’ll likely be a solid addition for the Raiders. While the Raiders won’t play the Steelers this season unless the two teams meet in the playoffs, they do play the Cleveland Browns in Week 8. By then, there’s a good chance that Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel will be under center by then. If he’s still healthy come that time, we’ll get to see Woodley chase the former Heisman Trophy winner around.