Injuries Continue To Pile Up for Steelers, Now Depth at LB Is A Big Concern

BALTIMORE MD - DECEMBER 05: Linebacker LaMarr Woodley #56 of the Pittsburgh Steelers smiles as he walks off the field after defeating the Baltimore Ravens 13-10 at M&T Bank Stadium on December 5 2010 in Baltimore Maryland. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)

It wasn't long ago, the injury bug swept through the offensive line. 

RT Marcus Gilbert got a bit of a scare in Sunday's game, but otherwise the line escaped unharmed for the second game in a row. 

Now, it's the linebackers. 

Pittsburgh has been been living on the idea of "Youth of SteelerNation" on offense, but defensively, it could spell problems quickly. Early reports suggest Steelers sack leader, OLB LaMarr Woodley, may miss Pittsburgh's pivotal Week 9 showdown with Baltimore due to the hamstring injury he sustained against New England in Week 8. 

Rookie OLB Chris Carter filled in for Woodley, and while his motor was impressive, he was blocked out of several plays on the ground, and was overmatched by RT Sebastian Vollmer and TE Rob Gronkowski in his pass rush. 

He did have a nice stunt to the inside on a pressure of QB Tom Brady, but overall, the lack of Steelers pass rush (read: the lack of Woodley) down the stretch was the main reason the Patriots made a game of it at the end. 

Stevenson Sylvester was less impressive in his first career start. Blown off the ball several times against the run, it took Steelers defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau two series to see how overmatched Sylvester was, and countered with essentially putting SS Troy Polamalu at the ILB position opposite Larry Foote, and had CBs Ike Taylor, Keenan Lewis and Cortez Allen playing several plays together. Adding in Ryan Clark and Ryan Mundy, it was the furthest the Steelers secondary has played into their depth chart in quite some time. 

Sylvester replaced veteran James Farrior, who's calf injury now is being reported by some as something that could keep him out until December. 

To counteract Carter's ineffectiveness, Lebeau called several inside blitzes, and got a lot of penetration from Larry Foote. He also stunted DE Brett Keisel around quite a bit, but these were all in obvious pass situations. With a balanced rushing and passing attack like Baltimore, the Steelers won't be able to be so aggressive with blitzing up the middle. 

While nothing is official, Woodley could play, and all things considered, he'll probably have to be locked up to keep him from playing. It's unlikely he'll be at 100 percent, though. Either way, if Jason Worilds (hamstring) and Carter are thrust into the lineup, they're going to have to produce. 

Other speculation suggests maybe James Harrison will be able to return. Seeing No. 92 back on the field at a time his team needs him more than any other time in his career would be a shot in the arm, but the Steelers must prepare to play without their star OLBs at full strength. 

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