Much was made out of which outside linebacker would shade the left tackle in the Steelers' defense last season. Jason Worilds had a breakout year thanks partially to the right tackles and tight ends he faced over the second half of the 2013 season. The rookie, Jarvis Jones, rushed off the defensive right side, and had a bit less success.
The Steelers are going to give him some help.
Defensive end Cameron Heyward, the team's most disruptive defensive player in 2013, will shift over to the right side, giving him something of a hand in hitting the left tackle - often the team's best pass blocker - theoretically freeing Jones up off the blindside edge.
It's not an incredibly big change; Heyward was playing all over the formation by the end of last season, and earned the nickname "Wreck It" for the damage he caused in doing it. Much of that damage was caused in sub package situations in which Heyward rushed from the interior.
The benefactor here is Jones. Having a strong pass rusher in front of him, a player with Heyward's athleticism and strength, can help the Steelers utilize Jones' quickness and mitigate his increasing strength. The AFC North - the version of it the Steelers will play - has three outstanding left tackles, Baltimore's Eugene Monroe, Cincinnati's Andrew Whitworth and Cleveland's Joe Thomas. The strength of their opponents may be as much of the reason for this move than anything, but the reality is, Heyward is the team's best defensive lineman, and using him against the strength of the opponents' blocking schemes is the smart decision.
Tribune Review reporter Mark Kaboly wrote the Steelers will utilize him in stand-up rush positions like they've done with Brett Keisel in the past. Having him stand up can really pressure an offense in the sense he can slant down the line and pressure the A-gap as part of a tackle-end stunt, or attack the outside shoulder of the tackle in an effort to open up the B-gap for an inside or outside linebacker.