The Steelers want to put heat on the QB in 2013, and if they are going to do that, they need more from OLB LaMarr Woodley.
Woodley said that in 2012 a main reason his production was down as far as sacks was due to the fact he was asked to drop back more in coverage.
The LB from Michigan said he rushed the quarterback about 50 percent of the time on passing downs, and dropped back into coverage the other 50 percent.
This year, he’s hoping that number changes a great deal.
“They pay me to rush, so hopefully I will be rushing and not covering receivers and tight ends down the field,” said Woodley. “I felt like I dropped back a lot last year, but that was the scheme. I would like to get back to doing more rushing.”
The Steelers are paying the 28-year-old to get to the QB, as they inked him to a 6-year deal worth $61.5 million with a $13 mil signing bonus back in 2011.
Last season the LB had just four sacks, but also had to battle through injuries to both his hamstring and ankle.
Healthy and ready to go, he sounds like a player ready to have a big 2013.
“My game is predicated on sacks and this defense is predicated on getting to the quarterback, making him make bad decisions and allowing our secondary to make plays,” said Woodley.
“I am asked to drop more. Other outside linebackers rush more. When my number is called I just have to make it count.”
It will be interesting to see who helps Woodley on the other side, as it will either be vet Jason Worlids or rookie Jarvis Jones.
Jones comes with a lot of hype, and Woodley sounds like he already is set to see at some point in 2013 he and Jones going after QB’s together.
“He looked good, not just in backs-on-backers,” said Woodley. “Going against our offense he is looking good, dropping back in coverage, rushing the quarterback.
“We went against the offensive line in one-on-one pass rush and he did a great job.”
The Steelers defense has been undergoing a change with players like James Harrison gone as well as old vets like Casey Hampton and in the recent past Aaron Smith and Joey Porter.
If Woodley can step his game up, the Steelers defense will have a much better chance of being dominant again in 2013.