Next man up.
Steelers outside linebacker Jason Worilds was unceremoniously benched in favor of rookie Jarvis Jones after Week 1 - a loss against Tennessee. Worilds and Jones rotate, with Jones getting the majority of snaps - roughly eight more a game.
Jones suffered a concussion in Pittsburgh's Week 6 win over the New York Jets, and is listed as questionable for the game. According to Tribune-Review reporter Ralph N. Paulk, even though Jones is listed as having been a full participant in practice Friday, Jones said he didn't take any snaps on defense or on special teams all week.
A strong indication Jones either will see limited snaps, or possibly not play at all.
It's Worilds' opportunity to re-gain some ground in a battle that goes deeper than just Sunday's game against the Ravens.
Worilds is in the final year of his rookie contract, the one he signed after the Steelers selected him in the second round out of Virginia Tech. The selection of Jones in last year's draft can't be seen as a positive step toward an extension for Worilds - a player who's generally under-performed in his first three years in the NFL. At the same time, though, depth and versatility are becoming more important in the NFL today. Keeping a rested pass rusher ready to play is something the Steelers haven't had over the last few seasons, and still could be an option for them in the future.
Worilds' performance doesn't suggest he'd be very expensive long-term. He's experienced within the defense, and in situations where Jones suffers a concussion, or LaMarr Woodley is injured (something that happened plenty often over the last two years), having a capable player step in - even with a likely drop in production (far more for Woodley than Jones) - it would be wise to hang onto Worilds.
It's a double-edged sword though, and that's why this game is so big for Worilds. If he performs well, his free agent stock increases, and likely prices himself out of the Steelers' desired range.
It's still critically important Worilds, as well as Jones, should he be able to play, produce in this game. Baltimore has struggled offensively so far this season, but these games are almost always decided by one of two elements - quarterback production, or quarterback pressure.
Worilds can affect one of those areas while continuing to build his resume.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- Steelers/Ravens Week: Everything you need to know
- The Standard is The Standard Show - Week 7 vs. Ravens
- Kelvin Beachum, the long-term solution at left tackle
- Woodley hurrying the Steelers defense
- Jarvis Jones injury: Rookie has concussion, status for Sunday unclear