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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Steelers place Woodley on IR

The Steelers on Tuesday placed linebacker LaMarr Woodley on injured reserve with a calf injury, his second calf injury in the past month and a half - to different legs.

The move, in effect, will end Woodley's career with the Steelers. Expect him to be released with a designation for the move to be made after June 1.

They will move forward with Jason Worilds at left outside linebacker and do whatever they need to keep Worilds, a free agent at season's end, in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers basically gave everyone a look at what direction they were leaning with that decision a couple of weeks ago when Woodley returned from his first calf injury and they kept Worilds at left outside linebacker instead of simply putting Woodley back at his old spot. Woodley was rotated with rookie Jarvis Jones at right outside linebacker, with that also being the plan last Sunday against Cincinnati.

Woodley lasted just two plays against the Bengals before injuring his calf attempting to bat down a pass.

The Steelers are about $7 million over the 2014 cap with 41 players signed, including Woodley, who accounts for $13.5 million of that number. By releasing him post June 1, they can push $8.6 million of his cap hit into 2015.

Woodley's 57 career sacks rank seventh on the Steelers' all-time list, but he has just nine sacks in his last 26 games, including five this season, after suffering a hamstring injury in Week 8 of the 2011 season. He had 44 sacks in his previous 56 games prior to the hamstring injury.

To replace Woodley on the roster, the Steelers signed fifth-year linebacker Jamaal Westerman, who was released Dec. 10 by Buffalo.

@ Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he expects defensive end Brett Keisel to return from a foot injury this week against Green Bay. Keisel has missed three of the past four games.

@ Tomlin expects rookie linebacker Terence Garvin to be fined by the NFL for his hit on Cincinnati punter Kevin Huber. Tomlin said he liked the position Garvin put himself into to deliver the block to Huber but that the execution was not what the Steelers teach.

Huber suffered a fractured jaw and cracked vertebrae when Garvin's helmet caught the bottom of his facemask on the block. NFL rules prohibit any hits to the head or neck are on kickers at all times.


Anonymous said...

Kickers of all types should be required to wear a different colored jersey (preferably pink) to distinguish them. Better yet, they should run off the field or lie down after completing their kick or punt.


pennstump said...

Dale, can you clarify something for me. The NFL rule book (Article 7) starts off the entire section on defenseless players with the phrase "unnecessary contact."

However, all talk of the rule never mentions this. It appears to have been implemented that any contact to a defenseless receiver is automatically deemed "unnecessary." This seems to be completely at odds with the official rule. If you followed it as written, the first question would always be 'was it necessary contact?' Then, if it is deemed that it was, then the rest of the rule is moot.

I would make the argument that the final block that sprung a Special Teams touchdown would be absolutely necessary. And then, of course, I could also make the argument that hitting the quarterback during a pass attempt would be "necessary" to force an incompletion.

Has this ever been discussed?

Anonymous said...


Aren't the steelers in pretty good position with the cap? Levi Brown accounts for about all of that 7M and they have some carryover from this year. Could they do a deal to lessen the woodley dead money impact?

phil said...

necessary contact isn't a binary state of contact: it doesn't mean yes contact or no contact. it just means that if you have the opportunity to use your hands to block a kicker, or to simply knock them over, you should do that instead of launching your head with all your strength into the jaw of the kicker.

yes the BLOCK was necessary, but the magnitude of Garvin's hit absolutely wasn't. Dude saw a chance to light up a punter who should have been paying better attention, and took full advantage...and now he's going to pay for it.

Anonymous said...

We complain that the nfl is "too soft" now with all the rule changes yet I hear ppl on this site talk about how Garvin took a cheap shot on the punter. I say light them up every chance u get along with every one else on the opposing team. It's football, stop whining and if u don't like it or approve, watch tennis

kyle said...

Huber is 6'1 and about 200 lbs. Which is to say, about three inches taller and a handful of change lighter than Troy Polamalu. Let's not pretend he's Martin Gramatica out there. Garvin says he didn't know it was the punter. I'm inclined to believe him because I played a lot of special teams and I never had any idea who I was hitting. If a guy wasn't looking, that was on him. And Garvin put his hands and facemask into Huber's chest. The only fault you could have with his technique was that he brought his head up after contact which is probably what caused the broken jaw.

And Anon 5:17, as Dale said, the Steelers are 8 million over the projected cap with only 41 players under contract. So yes, Levi Brown's contract will clear much of that but you have to have 53 players signed (more at certain points obviously). So unless the Steelers can sign a dozen or so players for less than the league minimum, they'll need to do more trimming.

Anonymous said...

I loved the Garvin hit and not even 3 years ago that was legal, and encouraged. Huber needs to get his head out of his ass and be more aware that he's on the field with freaks of nature that are trying to make names for themselves on special teams.

TarheelFlyer said...

Dale, Question about the Woodley contract. My impression was that we would only be responsible for that 8.something number this year, and that the rest would carry over, not vice-versa. If this is true, Woodley will be gone and that 8.something number will be used to get Worilds signed.

John Kang said...

Doesn't the remainder of Woodley's signing bonus, which was prorated over the life of the contract, now get pushed into one year? I kept reading that the Steelers gain nothing from cutting him.

Is there any chance he would extend his contract at a lower pay?

Dale Lolley said...

They are going to say that any hit to the head - even incidental as we have seen over the years - is unnecessary.

The block itself was certainly necessary. Garvin won't be fined for the hit, but for the contact to the facemask.

By releasing Woodley after June 1, the Steelers can split his remaining bonus money over two seasons instead of eating it all in one.

marc said...

with the emergence of worilds, which by the way was due to increased playing time and reps in real nfl games (not just practice), do the steelers even want Woodley to come back next season? if Woodley were to offer to take a pay cut to stay, would they oblige or move forward with their youth movement?

Anonymous said...

If Woodley was willing to take a salary cut, keep him. He’s 29, still semi-productive at the beginning of the season and as we’ve seen with the OL, injuries do happen. If you cut Woodley, then Woirlds or Jones gets hurt, who would replace them? Something needs to be done about those calves though.

kyle said...

That's a little chicken or the egg, marc. Has Worilds gotten better because he's been in games or has he shown he's good by being in games? Early on he showed flashes of being able to get to the quarterback. I think his first game he had a sack that iced a game against Miami. If Worilds' development was hindered by anything it was injuries. Chris Carter started against the Broncos last year. That doesn't happen if Worilds is healthy.

Anonymous said...

Move him to NT!!!

Anonymous said...

The best outcome is to extend Woodley in a cap favorable deal. We take a big cap hit over one or two years and as a June release we get no cap relief until June 1. Cutting Woodley doesn't help us sign players, but extending him does.

Having three olb is not a bad thing for our D. By know we are all familiar -- be it the bucs, the pens or the steelers -- depth matters.

More importantly, we can do more if Woodley doesn't take up so much cap. There will be releases. There will be extensions. There will be reduced salaries. Don't think LeBeau's loyalty is a one way street (of retirement he said he wouldn't quit on these guys). Don't be surprised if Ike, Troy or others want to be a part of what may be the end of an era or at least support for the long time leader of the D.

For Woodley's part an extension likely gives him more money than he'd get on the market. It may sound like good money after bad, but it also maybe a critical investment in managing the cap and giving the D more experienced depth.

And it could be the key to being able to sign Worilds.

Dale Lolley said...

Extending Woodley only pushed the issue further into the future with a player who has been injury prone the past three seasons. That solves nothing.

Lance said...

This is a business and non productive people need to go, especially when they taske up as much cap space as Woodley. The fron office is seeing the issues they have caused themselves by pushing bad money into the future.

Worilds needs to be the priority, he's younger and should be cheaper overall, Woodley can not stay on the field and has not been productive in years, time to go.

marc said...

kyle, agreed that worilds' injuries hindered his development. but the larger point being, to summarize his words, with greater reps came a better rhythm. clearly, the more he played the better he has gotten.

this leads to my criticism of not playing some of the younger guys sooner in their development (in recent years) and/or the rest of this season.

for example, wheaton played 4 offensive snaps against the bengals. that's useless. no doubt that either sanders or cotchery are gone next season - maybe both - so get Wheaton's ass in there and see what happens if he actually plays a whole game. you never know, he might get into a rhythm as well.

Lance said...


I think it is a fine line, but I agree with you. It seems to me that you need to have a good rotation of snaps for player development. Get Wheaton in a few series every game, rotate him with Sanders/Cotchery and let the hot player stay on the field a little longer.

Same goes with all young players that merit playing time. I understand you do not want 6 rookies on the field all the time, but certainly there is nothing wrong with 4 per game getting reps. Waiting 3-4 years to see players play gets old. If they are not ready, then change the way you are "getting them ready".

Worilds should have been on the field more last year, the game is about winning not playing unproductive vets at all costs. We hear how hard the "D" is but I see Vince Williams getting better every play, without injury we would know nothing about the guy.