Steelers will rotate their outside linebackers

Jason Bridge-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Jason Worilds will share snaps with LaMarr Woodley and Chris Carter will rotate with James Harrison when the Steelers face Philadelphia in Week 5.

The return of James Harrison to his starting right outside linebacker position gives the Steelers depth.

But perhaps a report suggesting the Steelers will rotate Harrison with Chris Carter - who's started in Harrison's absence through the first three games this season - is more indicative of where Harrison is from a conditioning standpoint.

That's understandable, considering Harrison's lack of activity over the past nine months. But the fact the report says LaMarr Woodley will rotate with Jason Worilds - his replacement last season when he suffered a hamstring injury that held him out much of the second half of the season - suggests something much stronger.

We've suggested the possibility of conditioning as opposed to scheme being a major factor in two fourth-quarter collapses by the Steelers defense in their two losses - at Denver and at Oakland.

Woodley has played nearly every snap of all three games, and his performance hasn't been as dominant as expected for a player of Woodley's ability and contract.

If the rotation system is being implemented, it doesn't take much to confirm fatigue is clearly an issue for him.

This isn't a shot at Woodley, it's just a testament of the physical toll weighing 280 pounds and constantly crashing the edge can take.

It's a smart move by the Steelers, if this is what they will do. Their defense was minimal against Denver and Oakland, two games in which they held second half leads, only to lose them by the end. In Oakland's case, the defense allowed five consecutive scoring drives, and was held on the field much of the fourth quarter.

The real concern was the fact the defense was only on the field 25 minutes of the game. the front seven in particular looked drained by the end, and they were largely successful in the first half.

While Carter and Worilds didn't show themselves to be difference-makers in their own rotation while Harrison was out, keeping Woodley and Harrison more rested for the fourth quarter could make a big difference.

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