We wrote last year, before the Steelers took on the Ravens in Week 7, that Jason Worilds, going against an old high-school opponent, needed to have a big game against Ravens' left tackle Eugene Monroe.
He didn't but the Steelers won anyway. By the time these teams faced each other again on Thanksgiving last year, Worilds was over on the defensive left side and he abused the combination of Michael Oher and Whatever-Tight End-Baltimore-Had.
On Sunday night, it'll be second-year pro Ricky Wagner standing in at right tackle, along with a mix of receiver-oriented tight ends Owen Daniels and rookie Crockett Gilmore.
Whereas it didn't appear to matter last year, Worilds likely would rather see the tight ends than the tackle.
Wagner is perhaps the biggest surprise for the Ravens this season, giving them outstanding play both in the run game as well as in pass protection. Worilds has hit his stride, having played very well the last three games the Steelers have played while posting a record of 2-1.
It's lazy to use the same narrative as last year, but Worilds is still in a contract-year and, while he's carving out a niche as a reliably productive player in Pittsburgh, if he wants top dollar to stay in town, he's going to have to show he can win these battles. It was a different story in Week 2, when a seemingly tired Worilds struggled with Daniels.
No dominant edge-rusher should struggle getting past a pass-catching tight end. Because of that advantage, Baltimore was able to keep Daniels on that side of the field and continue mixing and matching their outside running game with big success.
Look for the Ravens to bring out a bit of their no-huddle offense in an effort to wear the Steelers' defense down, hoping to run them off the field like they did in Week 2. The key to stopping that is going to be Worilds - the team's best pass-rusher - controlling the point of attack. He has to do better than he did in Week 2, both for his future earning power and for the Steelers' chances in this critical game.
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