Early in the offseason, Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley came under criticism from members of the organization for not being in good enough shape during the last couple of seasons, with the added implication that his lack of diligence in the offseason led to injuries that kept Woodley from helping the defense.
The anonymous slams of Woodley led to an angry response from other Steelers players about keeping criticisms in house rather than airing them in the media. It looks like we’ll avoid another round of the same during training camp.
Steelers linebacker coach Keith Butler said that Woodley is “where we need to have him” and that the linebacker “looks good.” Butler also said that he tried to impress on Woodley the importance of being in the best shape possible.
“We talked about it,” Butler said, via Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “You think about the logistics of the NFL: A team is paying you $7-8 million dollars and they aren’t paying you to watch from the sidelines. I am a coach and they don’t pay me $7-8 million to stand on the sidelines and that’s what he’s been doing. If you are not on the field, you can’t earn your money. They might pay for one year, but they aren’t going to pay for the next year. That is the matter-of-fact of the NFL.”
With James Harrison gone, the Steelers are trying to figure out if Jason Worilds or rookie Jarvis Jones will be starting across from Woodley. Whichever player is there, the pressure will be on Woodley to put up the kind of production he had in 2008-2010 when he averaged almost 12 sacks a season off the edge for the Steelers. Being in top condition is a big part of that puzzle, so it’s so far so good for Woodley.