Steelers exploring options to replace LB Harrison

By WILL GRAVES - AP Sports Writer
    2013-06-12 19:10

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Jason Worilds is not James Harrison. Neither is Jarvis Jones, Chris Carter or anybody else the Pittsburgh Steelers decide to put at right outside linebacker this season.

Linebackers coach Keith Butler doesn't necessarily think that's a bad thing. What Harrison's potential replacements lack in snarl they make up for in options.

``I've never had a situation like this where I can play three different guys and have confidence in all of them that they're going to be pretty good,'' Butler said Wednesday.

They'll have to be if they want to take the field for a team that perennially sends out one of the best defenses in the NFL. While Butler cautioned it's way too early to figure out the depth chart, he's confident the dropoff without Harrison won't be significant.

``We've got some guys who can play,'' Butler said.

And it may take using Worilds, Carter and Jones to fill in for the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Worilds finished with five sacks in spot duty last season. Jones, taken 17th overall in the draft, led the nation in sacks last fall while playing for Georgia. Carter, when healthy, might be the best of the three in pass coverage.

Though Jones is considered the future, Carter and Worilds understand there's a chance in the present to make an impact. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's defense can be difficult to pick up for young players no matter how talented they are. Worilds and Carter have paid their dues in that fashion and they know it's time for them to start producing.

The 25-year-old Worilds spent his first three seasons bouncing between the right side and left side. There are no such issues now, allowing him to get comfortable for the first time.

``The main thing for me this year is to finally have a home,'' Worilds said. ``In the past, I've worked at both sides, and I never knew from one day to the next where I would play. This year, I've worked almost exclusively on the right side, and having that craft to hone has really helped me out.''

Worilds will likely need to settle in quickly if he wants to hold off Jones. He played well at times while filling in as Harrison recovered from lingering knee issues last fall and picked up two sacks in a loss to Cleveland. The way Worilds looks at it, the more reps he gets, the better his chances of sticking around.

``I've always been the type of player where I learn better if I can go through it,'' he said.

The Steelers finished No. 1 in total defense in 2012 but were a middling 15th in sacks. Generating more pressure - and hopefully creating more turnovers in the process - has been a point of emphasis during the offseason. Though LeBeau commands his players to be versatile, there's little doubt the best way to stay at the top of the depth chart is getting into the backfield and creating havoc.

Chaos happened to be Jones' specialty at Georgia, where his 14.5 sacks were the most in the nation last fall. He has proven better than advertised covering running backs and tight ends, leading Butler to joke Jones is Pittsburgh's ``shutdown linebacker.''

That's not why the Steelers spent a first-round pick on Jones, though. And while LeBeau allows Jones will be a ``pretty good player'' if the coaches don't ``mess him up'' there's also no big rush to get him on the field. Jones was able to freelance at Georgia, relying on his talent to cover up mistakes. That won't be tolerated in the NFL.

``He doesn't exactly know what we require from him,'' Butler said. ``It's not like in college, even though he played outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. It doesn't mean he can be plugged right in.''

Jones is hardly lagging behind. The transition is just that difficult, something Carter and Worilds know all too well.

``Nobody comes in here and picks things up right away,'' Carter said. ``That's just how it is. You look at Jason Worilds, even James Harrison. He didn't get going right away, but look at how he developed.''

Carter is spending most of his time on the left side behind LaMarr Woodley but remains an option on the right side in certain situations. And even with Harrison gone, Carter believes the overall depth has improved.

``I also think we have a better linebacker corps this year, as the younger guys got more experience, and with who they brought in,'' Carter said. ``So, that's a good thing for the team. That gives us a lot of weapons on defense, and we need all we can get to win a championship.''

Something that tends to happen with regularity in Pittsburgh. The echoes of the Steel Curtain defense that won four titles in the 1970s still resonate. Worilds, in fact, wore a t-shirt honoring one of the NFL's all-time defenses on Wednesday.

``They were the best,'' Worilds said, ``and I want this defense to be the best.''


Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Sean LeeOct 5 06:42p

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee (concussion) is feeling better but will have to pass all of his concussion tests before he is cleared to play again, according to head coach Jason Garrett.

Lance DunbarOct 5 06:42p

Dallas Cowboys RB Lance Dunbar (knee) will miss the rest of the 2015 season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in Week 4. He scheduled [ More ]

Ronnie BrownOct 5 05:32p

Free-agent RB Ronnie Brown (Chargers) re-signed with the San Diego Chargers Monday, Oct. 5, according to a source. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Andrew LuckOct 5 05:12p

Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (shoulder) is expected to play in the Week 5 game against the Houston Texans Thursday, Oct. 8. Luck has a slightly separated throwing shoulder [ More ]

Sammy WatkinsOct 5 04:42p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins' (calf) status for the Week 5 game against the Tennessee Titans is uncertain at this point, according to head coach Rex Ryan. 'He looked [ More ]

Jordan ReedOct 5 04:42p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed's (concussion, knee, ankle) head injury is a real concern, according to head coach Jay Gruden. Reed has a long history of head injuries dating [ More ]

Daniel FellsOct 5 04:42p

New York Giants TE Daniel Fells (ankle) was placed on the season-ending Reserve/Injured list Monday, Oct. 5, due to a staph infection in his ankle. TE Will Tye was [ More ]

Antonio GatesOct 5 04:22p

San Diego Chargers TE Antonio Gates is in great shape and will be play in the Week 5 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to head coach Mike McCoy.

Ryan MallettOct 5 02:42p

Houston Texans QB Ryan Mallett will be the starting quarterback for the Week 5 game against the Indianapolis Colts Thursday, Oct. 8, according to head coach Bill O'Brien.

Christine MichaelOct 5 02:42p

Dallas Cowboys RB Christine Michael will have a role in the offense, according to executive vice president Stephen Jones, with RB Lance Dunbar (knee) possibly out for the rest [ More ]

Dez BryantOct 5 02:32p

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (foot) could return after the Cowboys' Week 6 bye, according to executive vice president Stephen Jones. Bryant recently had a positive examination of the [ More ]

Cecil Shorts IIIOct 5 02:12p

Houston Texans WR Cecil Shorts (shoulder) is considered doubtful for the Week 5 game against the Indianapolis Colts because of the dislocated shoulder he suffered in Week 4.

Alec OgletreeOct 5 02:12p

St. Louis Rams LB Alec Ogletree (ankle) will need surgery on his ankle, according to head coach Jeff Fisher. Ogletree is a candidate to be placed on the short-term Reserve/Injured list.

Dan CampbellOct 5 01:52p

Miami Dolphins tight ends coach Dan Campbell was named the team's interim head coach Monday, Oct. 5.

Julius ThomasOct 5 01:52p

Jacksonville Jaguars TE Julius Thomas (hand) is scheduled to meet with a doctor Monday, Oct. 5, and may be cleared for full practice after the meeting. His status for [ More ]

Caleb SturgisOct 5 01:32p

Philadelphia Eagles PK Caleb Sturgis will remain the team's kicker for the time being, according to head coach Chip Kelly.

Will MontgomeryOct 5 01:22p

Chicago Bears C Will Montgomery (leg) will miss the remainder of the 2015 season after he suffered a fractured tibia during the team's Week 4 game. He will need [ More ]

Josh JohnsonOct 5 01:22p

Indianapolis Colts QB Josh Johnson was released Monday, Oct. 5.

Colin KaepernickOct 5 01:02p

San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick was 13-for-25 for just 160 yards and an interception in the Week 4 loss to the Green Bay Packers. He also ran for 57 yards on 10 carries.

Kyle BrindzaOct 5 12:42p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers PK Kyle Brindza was released Monday, Oct. 5, after missing seven kicks in the last two weeks.

Joe PhilbinOct 5 11:52a

Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin was fired Monday, Oct. 5, according to Sun-Sentinel.

Willie SneadOct 5 11:02a

New Orleans Saints WR Willie Snead played 48 snaps (66% of the offense) Sunday, Oct. 4, in Week 4, while WR Brandon Coleman played just 19 for 26% of the offense.

Andrew LuckOct 5 10:12a

Updating an earlier report, Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (shoulder) is expected by the team to be under center Thursday, Oct. 8, against the Houston Texans. His shoulder injury [ More ]

Daniel FellsOct 5 09:52a

New York Giants TE Daniel Fells (foot) had an unexpected foot surgery and is likely headed to Injured Reserve, according to sources.

Jordan ReedOct 5 09:42a

Updating a previous report, Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (concussion) was diagnosed with a concussion Sunday, Oct. 4.

Andrew LuckOct 5 08:52a

Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (shoulder) has a short week to prepare for Week 5, but he's trending toward being ready Thursday, Oct. 8, against the Houston Texans. 'He [ More ]

DeMarco MurrayOct 5 08:42a

Philadelphia Eagles RB DeMarco Murray said he's not getting enough touches in the offense Sunday, Oct. 4. 'No, I'm not,' Murray said. 'I don't think I am. It's how [ More ]

C.J. SpillerOct 5 01:42a

New Orleans Saints RB C.J. Spiller carried just twice for 10 yards in the Week 4 game against the Dallas Cowboys, but he had an 80-yard touchdown catch and [ More ]

Willie SneadOct 5 01:42a

New Orleans Saints WR Willie Snead posted six receptions for 89 yards in the Week 4 game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Mark IngramOct 5 01:42a

New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram carried 17 times for 77 yards in the Week 4 game against the Dallas Cowboys. He also added six receptions for 51 yards [ More ]

Drew BreesOct 5 01:42a

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees (shoulder) completed 33 of his 41 pass attempts for 359 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. His 80-yard touchdown pass to RB C.J. [ More ]

Brandon WeedenOct 5 01:12a

Dallas Cowboys QB Brandon Weeden completed 16 of his 26 pass attempts for 246 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in the Week 4 overtime loss against the New [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
Player Notes:
Forum Posts:

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group