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LaMarr Woodley most likely Steelers candidate to win Deacon Jones Award

The league's leader in sacks will now receive the Deacon Jones Award - named after the late Rams defensive lineman who coined the word "sack." What are the odds Steelers OLB LaMarr Woodley can be the first to win the award?

Jared Wickerham

Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley was on a tear before that tear extended to his hamstring.

In 2011, Woodley had just 1.5 sacks in the team's first four games, but starting in Week 5 against Tennessee, he racked up 7.5 sacks in four games, putting him among the league leaders.

The NFL recently announced the lead's leader in sacks will be given the Deacon Jones Award - named for the man who coined the word "sack" for tackling the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage. Jones is thought to have had several seasons in which he had 20 or more sacks. The stat wasn't tracked until 1982, therefore, Jones, who played in the 1960s, isn't known as the career leader empirically. It's likely he would be, though.

The Steelers haven't had a player lead the NFL in sacks since Kevin Greene had 14 in 1994. That amount is still the lowest total a league-leader has had since the stat was tracked. Whomever leads the NFL in sacks in 2013 will need more than 14 (Houston's J.J. Watt led the league with 20.5 sacks in 2012), but if any Steelers player will challenge for the league lead, it's likely to be Woodley.

Can Woodley pull off being the first recipient of the Deacon Jones Award? Assuming he stays healthy for 16 games (something he hasn't done since 2010), he's shown he has the talent to get after the quarterback. His size and strength also appear to give him an advantage late in games, after wearing down the opposing right tackle (he plays left outside linebacker) through four quarters.

Perhaps this will be the year Woodley regains the form of the player who had 35 sacks in 47 games from 2008-10. It seems more a question of his health than his ability.