Steelers LaMarr Woodley eager to get more pass rush opportunities

Vincent Pugliese-USA TODAY Sport

Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley has seen a decreased amount of pass rush opportunities in the past few seasons in Dick LeBeau's defense; something that he hopes changes this season.

While much is to be made about LaMar Woodley's conditioning coming into this season, the former second round pick in 2007 expressed his enthusiasm about getting more chances to rush the quarterback in 2013.

Woodley talked about how in 2012 he was held back from blitzing the quarterback on passing downs and third downs to fit the scheme of the defense, more so than earlier in his career when he was totaling sacks in the double digits for consecutive seasons. If this is the case, maybe he'll get that opportunity if the opposite outside linebacker sees more consistency this season.

That is not a shot at James Harrison, but he has been suffering from injuries over the past few seasons that have given Jason Worilds more opportunities to start, and even sometimes move inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons into that position. As we see Jarvis Jones work through his first camp and Worilds fight to maintain his position as starter at the right-outside-linebacker position, the thought that the team could have a young stud at the position again may allow for Woodley to rush the passer again.

However in Woodley's position I only see one thing that causes me to pause: Dick LeBeau. The prowess and reputation of Dick LeBeau's defensive genius is something that every Steelers fan has a great respect for. Considering the defense missed Troy Polamalu for more than half the season last year and they still yielded the least amount of yards in the NFL, as well as the history of the franchise's elite defenses under LeBeau, coach has a lot of standing for his word to be unquestioned.

Personally I feel that if Dick LeBeau walked up to me on the street in downtown Pittsburgh and told me I needed to do up-downs on the sidewalk because it would have an impact on the defensive scheme for the game that week, I would probably start chopping my feet and drop to the pavement immediately. They're both professionals in the business, so I'm sure there's more to that conversation than what has been made public.

Woodley continued in his comments to refer to times when the Steelers' pass rush causes big plays for the defense because of pressure on the quarterback. Woodley's career is a perfect example of this concept; it was the pressure he applied to Joe Flacco in the 2008-2009 AFC Championship that recorded a sack and then forced a throw to that would be one of Troy Polamalu's most legendary plays as he would go onto score and put the game further out of reach. But I'll still take LeBeau's word on how to operate the defense for now; and who knows, maybe an increase on pass rush opportunities is just what the LeBeau has in store for No. 56.

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