Titans vs. Steelers: The importance of Jason Worilds' opportunity to start this weekend

Peter Aiken

While Jarvis Jones will be in pads against the Titans, the play of Jason Worilds will be important to keep an eye on.

Admittedly, I am ecstatic about seeing Jarvis Jones being able to play in the Steelers' opening game after his preseason injury. However the fact that he's not being catapulted into the starting role of the left outside linebacker position has its merits.

Jason Worilds has had an uneasy, and somewhat unfair, ride in Pittsburgh so far. He was drafted to play behind two starting linebackers who were beloved by the franchise, both of whom had been in the Pro Bowl and forced crucial turnovers in Pittsburgh's last Super Bowl victory.

Worilds has had opportunities to start for the defense in prior years, and it appears he will get that opportunity again on Sunday. While he has not been a stellar player thus far, his play going forward can still legitimize his pick as a 2nd rounder years ago.

Look for Worilds to make plays on the edge; the Steelers will need him to dominate tackles and tight ends and keep his outside arm free to turn back Chris Johnson on stretch plays. That alone would play a major factor on Sunday going towards the Steelers shutting down the Titans' offense. Should Worilds consistently set the edge on the run and provide a few rushes on the passer that either lead to sacks or disrupted plays, he will prolong his keep on the Pittsburgh defense.

Not that I don't want to see Jones enter the game and wreck havoc, but it would be significant moving forward if the Steelers can get more out of Worilds in his final contract year. He can play a role in the defense's continued dominance of the league and maintain the lowest yards allowed per game, and even if he's bought up for a big contract elsewhere for next season, he has played a part of the transition period to Jones.

However depth is a consistent necessity in the new age salary-cap NFL, especially with the amount of injuries that can quickly heap upon any team. Should Worilds prove himself worthy enough to stay on the roster, having three legitimate players that can make defensive plays from the edge of the line of scrimmage can help the team during long seasons and late playoff pushes.

When you watch Worilds on Sunday, don't just be looking for Jones to come in; keep your eye on how he performs. The idea of having three outside linebackers who were selected in the first two rounds of their respective drafts is one of the positive notes on this roster moving forward. If Worilds can make enough noise at the position, even the prospect of a trade could bode well for this roster.

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