As most of you already know, starting outside linebacker Jarvis Jones was diagnosed with a concussion earlier this week. Although Jones could still suit up against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, his status to play is nevertheless “up in the air.”
If Jones is unable to play, or is limited by his head injury, then the Steelers will need to turn to Jason Worilds for a big performance during the team’s upcoming divisional matchup.
Even though Worilds lost his starting job to the highly touted rookie earlier this season, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau shared some positive thoughts about the veteran pass rusher in a recent interview on Steelers.com:
If you look at the video and really the team record, you will see that Jason played pretty dag gone well last year. He was a young player, kind of fighting his way through it. He had a good season for us last year. He showed up on the sack, and that gets you noticed. But a lot of times it’s what you do at the point of attack and the effort that you give to get the other guys around you free. Jason has always been excellent at that. He is a good, growing young player. We are glad we got him.
After the aforementioned rocky start to his 2013 season, Worilds came on strong (along with Jones) last weekend against the New York Jets. The former Virginia Tech Hokie supplied adequate pocket-collapse, recorded his first sack of the 2013 campaign, and added five tackles.
Worilds and Jones (if he plays) must be ready to put the heat on Joe Flacco this weekend, and it will be up to both of them to make Baltimore’s new starting left tackle, Eugene Monroe, uncomfortable throughout the game. The Ravens have allowed 19 sacks through their first six games, so it will be up to Pittsburgh’s outside linebackers to add to that already large total.
Even if Jones is in fact the long-term answer at the right outside linebacker spot for the Steelers, Worilds can still put on a good showing for “outside linebacker-needy” teams that will be exploring options at the position when the free agency begins next spring.
With that in mind, it will be up to Worilds to take advantage of every opportunity he receives down the stretch. As a guy who showed flashes of solid play during his first three years in the league (42 games, 10 starts, 10.0 sacks), it would be awesome if Worilds could finally emerge as a pass-rushing threat on a weekly basis while the Steelers try to get back into postseason contention.
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