Steelers OTAs: Jason Worilds sets a mock goal of '400 sacks' for 2014

Mitchell Leff

The Steelers outside linebacker's comments should be taken in jest, but he's working as if that number is possible.

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers fans should be thrilled to know that Jason Worilds had a specific sack goal he wanted to reach this season.

"How many rushes do we get,'' Worilds asked to no one in particular. He thought for a few more seconds and then responded: "Four hundred.''

That elicited laughter from the reporters talking with him after the Steelers OTA practice Tuesday at Heinz Field. It's not just the gaudy number that Worilds chose, but it's likely some believed that even if it was attainable the fifth-year outside linebacker wouldn't play enough games to get it.

Worilds has been out with a calf injury since the opening OTA May 27, and he said there was no timetable for his return.

"I'll just keep trying to get ready so I'm ready when the coaches tell me I can go,'' Worilds said.

This is nothing new for Worilds, who seems to be felled by a different ailment each year. While he's missed just one game in the past two seasons (after being out six from 2010-11), Worilds has not been a heavy practice participant. He has missed chunks of time in training camp every year and also at several points during his four NFL seasons.

Still, the Steelers clearly believed that their second-round pick in 2010 was a necessary component to this season's defense, because they signed him to a huge one-year contract this year. Worilds was designated with the transition tag this year, which came to $9.754 million for linebackers, about $2 million less than what Worilds would have made if he had been designated as the Steelers' franchise player.

There hasn't appeared to be any movement on a long-term contract agreement between he and the Steelers, who would cut his cap hit immensely by doing that, but Worilds said he would be thrilled if it happened.

"Absolutely, as far as a long-term deal goes,'' Worilds said when asked if he wanted an extended stay with the Steelers. "You put so much time and effort into it with these guys, like I've done here (with the Steelers).

"So you'd like to do it for the duration of your career. That would be great for me. You'd hope (it could get done), but I'm just taking it one day at a time. And as long as I continue with that approach, everything should fall into place.''

Worilds excelled after moving to left outside linebacker during the second half of last season, and he finished with eight sacks in 15 games and 11 starts. The Steelers believed Worilds would be even more consistent with increased playing time and confidence. So, he is slated to start there this season as well.

"Yes, it looks like I'm going to start somewhere this year, on the left or right side, and I never knew that before,'' Worilds said. "So, it's a great feeling. That makes it a lot less mentally (challenging) for me, because it's tough to prepare for games when you're a backup and not playing much.

"Also, not knowing which side you'll be on. So, it's just a lot tougher. ... Once I knew I was going to play there and stay there (on the left side), I became more consistent and settled into it. That's why I played so well at the end of last season. Hopefully, I can continue that this season.''

While there's no chance for Worilds to reach his aforementioned sack goal, the Steelers would be thrilled if he could duplicate last year's success and do it over a long, 16-game season.

But to do that, Worilds will have to stay relatively healthy for the entire season.

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