Woodley injured his hamstring in the Steelers 25-17 win over New England in Week 8. Woodley recorded his fourth consecutive game with 1+ sacks, but after he left, the Steelers failed to put much pressure on QB Tom Brady.
His absence would be devastating to a team that's already razor thin at both linebacker spots. OLB James Harrison has missed the last four games with a broken orbital bone, and said yesterday he will miss this game as well. Jason Worilds has been deactivated the past few games with a hamstring injury of his own. ILB Lawrence Timmons shifted over to the outside spot replacing Harrison, but a calf injury to ILB James Farrior forced Stevenson Slyvester into the starting lineup last week.
Sylvester did not play well, and was replaced early in the second quarter. SS Troy Polamalu lined up much of the game at ILB, and FSs Ryan Clark and Ryan Mundy played the deep half of the field.
Woodley's absence would give Baltimore a big advantage in both the rush and passing games. Without a strong anchor point on the edge, a 3-4 defense will be susceptible to outside runs, and will struggle in defending the flats in the passing game.
If Woodley will not play, it would appear as if rookie Chris Carter would get a start, but no word has been made about Worilds' availability. Carter looked better than Sylvester did, but appeared too small to handle Patriots RT Sebastian Vollmer - the same tackle who surrendered one sack and multiple pressures to Woodley.