Steelers Worilds wants consistent playing time
Pittsburgh linebacker Jason Worilds will not be watching from the sidelines Sunday against New England. Worilds had won back the starting linebacker’s job from rookie Jarvis Jones.
PITTSBURGH – Jason Worilds knows the tough time rookie Jarvis Jones is going through right now.
But he’s not planning on making things any easier on the Steelers first-round draft pick, either. After playing behind James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley on the depth chart for three seasons, Worilds had enough difficult times of his own to care much about the trials and tribulations of others.
Worilds has been re-elevated to No. 1 on the Steelers’ depth chart heading into the game Sunday at New England (6-2). And he doesn’t plan on giving the job up again.
In fact, Worilds would prefer the coaching staff give up on splitting the snaps with Jones as they have done throughout the first seven weeks and allow Worilds to carry the load.
“It’s always different when you can play consistently,” said Worilds, a second-round pick in 2010 who will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. “As a rusher, as a player in general, if, out of 10 plays, you rush two plays and drop back eight plays, it’s going to affect your rush. That’s just from a rushing standpoint. If you’re only in three plays, you never know. It’s better to play consistently.”
The Steelers (2-5) haven’t given Worilds or Jones that opportunity this season. Regardless of whom the starter has been, the Steelers have split the workload with Worilds playing 259 defensive snaps – including a handful at left outside linebacker – and Jones getting 208.
Jones said he is taking his demotion in stride.
“I’m not looking at it like I’m second on the depth chart or behind somebody,” said Jones, who is still searching for his first career sack after leading major college football with 14.5 last season at Georgia. “They’re making the moves that are best for the team. I’m sure I’ll still get my handful of plays or opportunities. I’ve just got to take advantage of them when I do get them.”
The one game in which there was no rotation at right outside linebacker, a 19-16 victory over Baltimore that Jones sat out with a concussion, Worilds responded with three tackles and a team-best three quarterback pressures.
According to Worilds, that comes with being able to get into the flow of the game.
“You can set a guy up,” said Worilds, who has one sack this season and 11 in his career. “That’s a benefit that people take for granted. It’s a benefit to be able to set guys up and get a feel for the flow of the game and when to do certain moves.”
Regardless of who is playing outside linebacker across from Woodley, the Steelers need more production out of the position formerly occupied by Harrison.
Harrison had six sacks in 13 games in 2012 before being released in the offseason after refusing to take a pay cut.
The Steelers selected Jones with the 17th pick in the draft with the hopes that he and/or Worilds would give them a consistent pass rush in Harrison’s stead. Pittsburgh has just 10 sacks this season – tied for 31st in the league – with Woodley having half of that total. Worilds has eight quarterback pressures, while Jones has three.
Getting to the quarterback will be important this week against New England’s Tom Brady, who has been sacked 23 times already this season after being sacked 27 times in 2011.
The Steelers haven’t had a lot of success over the years against Brady, who owns a 6-2 career record against Pittsburgh, but when they have, it’s because they have gotten consistent pressure on him.
In Pittsburgh’s two wins over Brady, they have sacked him a combined seven times. In Brady’s six wins over the Steelers, Pittsburgh has sacked him just nine times.
“When you watch the film from the last time we played them, a lot of it is pressure,” said Worilds of Pittsburgh’s last meeting with Brady, a 25-17 win at Heinz Field in which the Steelers recorded three sacks.
New punter Mat McBriar will wear No. 10. … Cornerback Curtis Brown (excused), guard David DeCastro (ankle), nose tackle Steve McLendon (illness) and wide receiver Markus Wheaton (finger) did not practice Wednesday. … Guard Ramon Foster (concussion) was limited, while tight end Heath Miller and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger were rested in the team portion of practice.