Steeler Nation, not long ago LaMarr Woodley was considered one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. The bigger the game it seemed the bigger he played. Woodley has had 19 tackles, 10 sacks and one forced fumble in the 6 playoff games he has played in. LaMarr Woodley was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2007 NFL draft in the 2nd round 46th player taken overall.
It did not take Woodley long to make an impact as a Steeler. He registered his first sack in his second game as a Steeler against the Buffalo Bills. He finished his rookie season with 4 sacks despite not starting a game as a rookie.
LaMarr Woodley by his second season became a regular starter and registered 11.5 sacks and an interception . Woodley did not stop there for the 2009 season he had 13.5 sacks and a fumble recovery earning him his first Pro Bowl appearance.
2010 was more of the same with Woodley recording 9.5 sacks, 2 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries and scoring a touchdown.
In 2011 after signing a new 6 year 61.5 million dollar contract, Woodley started the season almost unstoppable recording nine sacks in the first eight games, before suffering a hamstring injury mid-season and missing six of the next eight games.
In 2012, the injury bug bit again with Woodley battling a high ankle sprain much of the season. He finished the season with just 4 sacks and never really regained his form from previous seasons.
This off-season there have been questions raised about Woodley being out of shape going into 2012 season. In a story By Ron Cook / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in February, Cook reported that an unidentified teammate had this to say…
“He was awful,” one teammate said of Woodley’s performance last season.
“He tells us he works out, but we didn’t see it. He wasn’t in shape. That has to be a reason why he was always hurt.”
Whether or not Woodley’s physical conditioning or lack of it was a factor in his injuries the past couple of years is purely speculation. No one knows for sure, but there is no doubt being in top physical shape is a must to handle the wear and tear of a full NFL season.
By all accounts Woodley has taken the necessary steps to make sure he is in great shape for the 2013 season. Woodley had this to say to Dan Gigler / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in May….
Woodley: My off-season is going great. I’m looking forward to getting back with the team in a few weeks,” Woodley said. “I’ve been training since the middle of February. … It was a disappointing season being 8-8 and not making the playoffs. It was disappointing at the end of the day.”
Woodley:“My thing was during the season when I hurt my ankle, I said that I wanted to come back stronger next year. Some injuries you can’t predict or avoid, but, during the season, I said this off-season I’d be determined to get after it.”
In June during mini camp Steeler linebacker coach Keith Butler noticed a difference and had this to say about Woodly’s current conditioning…
Butler: Whatever he did, it appears to be right,” Butler said. “The biggest thing is we’ve got to keep him on the field. LaMarr is a prideful man. He understands he has to play at a certain level to fulfill his contract, you might say. He’s working on it.”
Woodley seems to be doing everything in his power to turn things around in the 2013 season.
Its this writer’s opinion that Woodley is still a top pass rusher and will come back stronger proving all his doubters wrong.
Steeler Nation what do you think ? Will Woodley turn things around this season and once again play up to the Pro Bowl standard he set before his injuries? Or will it be another sub-par season full of injuries? We would love to hear your opinion ,leave a comment and please Vote below…