Steelers unsure where to put Woodley, Worilds
PITTSBURGH – After sitting out the last three games with a calf injury, linebacker LaMarr Woodley has a good chance of returning to the lineup Sunday when the Steelers host the Miami Dolphins.
The question for the Steelers is where will they put him?
With Woodley out since the first half of a loss Nov. 3 at New England, Jason Worilds slid from his usual right outside linebacker position to the left side, with rookie Jarvis Jones playing Worilds’ spot.
All Worilds has done in three-plus games is record five sacks and force a fumble. He leads the team with six sacks.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he hasn’t made a decision if Worilds will stay on the left side or if move back to the right if Woodley, who had five sacks in the first nine games, returns. Woodley has said he’s open to playing on the right side.
“That’s to be determined, not only on whether or not Woodley is ready, but his level of readiness,” Tomlin said. “I acknowledge that the work that we’ve gotten from Worilds, particularly on the left side of our defense, has been impressive and has not gone unnoticed by me.”
Speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace, a third-round draft pick of the Steelers in 2009, spurned Pittsburgh’s overtures to re-sign him in the 2012 offseason and held out of training camp, causing Tomlin considerable consternation.
But Tomlin says he harbors no ill feelings toward Wallace, who signed a five-year, $60-million contract with the Dolphins in free agency.
“Since he’s been in the league, he’s worked hard at developing a well-rounded game and that’s evident – even last week, in terms of taking a short catch and turning and breaking a tackle and producing a touchdown,” said Tomlin, who used to prod Wallace to get better in his rookie season by calling him a one-trick pony.
“(I) love Mike; won’t love Mike on Sunday. We’ve got business and he stands in the way. I think he has a respect for that. We do, too.”
Center Fernando Velasco had surgery Saturday to repair a ruptured Achilles’ tendon injury suffered in Thursday night’s 22-20 loss at Baltimore. The Steelers are down to their third starting center, Cody Wallace.
Velasco and Wallace were added to the roster Sept. 9, a day after Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey suffered a season-ending knee injury in a 16-9 season-opening loss to Tennessee.
Compounding the problem with breaking in a new center is left tackle Kelvin Beachum and right guard David DeCastro are questionable to play Sunday because of injuries. Beachum has a sprained knee; DeCastro a sprained foot.
Offensive tackle Rashad Butler, who was signed Saturday, left the team for personal reasons Monday. The Steelers signed guard/center David Snow, who played in five games (two starts) for Buffalo last year.
“We’ll make do as we always do. We’ll start with the healthy people,” Tomlin said. “We acknowledge that there are some issues in that area that we’re working on. We also acknowledge that we have capable professionals who we believe in. Given a week to prepare, we expect quality performance.”
Defensive end Brett Keisel (foot) will not play Sunday. Keisel attempted to play against Baltimore, but left in the first quarter. … Running back Le’Veon Bell (concussion) and offensive tackle Mike Adams (ankle) are expected to be limited in practice but could play Sunday. … Nose tackle Steve McLendon (ankle) is expected to play after missing the Baltimore game.