Steelers OTAs: Outside linebackers begin sharpening iron for a fierce competition

Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

The absence of James Harrison and the recent injury issues of LaMarr Woodley give Jarvis Jones, Jason Worilds, Adrian Robinson and Chris Carter plenty to shoot for in what looks to be an intense competition for playing time.

There's likely only one member of Steeler Nation excited about the hamstring injury suffered by first round pick Jarvis Jones.

Steelers OLB Adrian Robinson. Perhaps two, with Jason Worilds joining the upstart Robinson. Maybe oft-injured Chris Carter is having silent enjoyment over the limitation of the much hyped Jones.

Jones pulled a hamstring in his pro day at the University of Georgia before the NFL Draft. He re-aggravated it during the Steelers' rookie minicamp in May. He was limited in the first OTA session last week, and could be limited in the second session, which begins today in Pittsburgh.

That's fine for the other Steelers outside linebackers. The less Jones is around, the more attention for them. This would play in well to the pro-Steelers side effect of selecting Jones in the first place; the creation of internal competition.

Worilds has three years of experience now, and has played a decent amount of snaps in his career. While he was likely put off at least a little over the Steelers offering James Harrison a reduced deal to remain with the team just as Worilds, a second round pick in 2010, enters the last year of his rookie deal, he had to be at least a little miffed over the selection of Jones after that.

If Worilds is fueled by that, Robinson should be even more motivated. Harrison's departure gave him a free shot at Worilds in an even competition. Bringing Jones into the mix is yet another highly touted prospect the former undrafted free agent has to beat out to see the field.

Carter, who has battled injuries his entire career, saw the field in lieu of Harrison and Worilds at the start of last season, and needs a healthy start to this camp to move past his likely fringe roster status.

Iron sharpens iron, and Worilds sharpens Jones, Robinson and Carter. Or perhaps Robinson is the one sharpening all of them. The high-pitched shriek of sharpening metal is ringing loudly in the ears of the veteran of the group, too. LaMarr Woodley has his own sense of urgency as well, looking to play at the level he was at over the first half of the 2011 season, when he had nine sacks in eight games.

He's getting the paycheck, and he should be sharpening everyone else more than they're sharpening him. After such a long streak of a lack of health, though, he shouldn't feel as if his left outside linebacker spot is his by divine right. Robinson and Jones certainly won't feel that way.

Competition is a good thing, and perhaps with a healthy core unit of outside linebackers, the Steelers could work to increase that one thing the group hasn't had recently; depth.

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