LATROBE, Pa. -- The teacher is the all-time sack leader for linebackers in NFL history. The student is in his first season as a full-time starter, hoping one day to pass the teacher.
It's hard to find the two men apart at the Pittsburgh Steelers practices, even if the student, second-year linebacker LaMarr Woodley, really doesn't remember the days when Kevin Greene, the teacher, was coming off the edge for three NFL teams, including the Steelers.
"I remember him from wrestling," Woodley said. "I was more of a wrestling fan. Not so much for football."
Greene did spend time in the WCW during his NFL career, but it's his ability to knock down the quarterback and his flowing, blonde hair that most remember, even if Woodley doesn't. Greene still has the long hair -- I always think Hulk Hogan -- but it's his teaching that is the focus now. Greene has spent time in different camps as a volunteer the past couple of years, but he appears to have a real soft spot for Woodley.
"I'm just glad he's receptive to hearing what I have to say," Greene said
If you're looking for the next great defensive star in the league, Woodley might be a good choice. He is big, strong, fast and wants to be great. Think along the line of Shawne Merrriman of the San Diego Chargers and DeMarcus Ware of the Dallas Cowboys -- Woodley has that same type of ability and explosiveness.
Playing opposite James Harrison, who went to his first Pro Bowl last season from the right outside linebacker spot, Woodley could help the Steelers have their best pair of outside rushers since Greene and Greg Lloyd played together in the 1990s.
Harrison is good -- Woodley can be great and seeing him during two practices here was a real treat. It's like seeing a star ready to blossom.
"He's got the tools to be a really productive pass rusher," Greene said. "I'm just working on some techniques with him. Now it's just a matter of his going out and kicking some ***."
Greene had 160 sacks in his career, third all time behind Bruce Smith and Reggie White, so he knows about kicking ***. Who wouldn't want to pick his brain?
"When they first brought Kevin in, they told me he was a guy who was similar to me," Woodley said.
Greene smirked at that, even though Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said that's part of the reason Greene is in camp.
"He's 20 pounds heavier than I was," Greene said. "They're saying that?"
Woodley is 6-feet-2, 265 pounds. His build is square and he's strong, too. During a drill during Wednesday's practice, he bull-rushed 330-pound tackle Willie Colon. On the next play, he went around the tackle with his speed.
Coming out of Michigan, Woodley was considered a player who might not be big enough to play end in a 4-3 and not fast enough to play linebacker. The scouts questioned his position. What they forgot was that he was a football player. In the Steelers' 3-4 scheme, he is a perfect fit. The outside rushers play like defensive ends that drop into coverage. They go forward more than 50 percent of the time.
As a rookie, Woodley didn't get any starts, but he flashed rush ability. He had four sacks in a limited role and had two in the playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"I'm a lot more comfortable now," Woodley said. "I know my teammates. I know what to expect from them. I know the defense better. I'm not thinking so much about what I'm doing out there."
The Steelers hope Woodley can follow Harrison's path of a year ago. Harrison was a five-year backup until taking over as a full-time starter, and then earned a Pro Bowl start. At 6-feet and 240 pounds, he isn't as big as Woodley but he also plays strong.
Despite his strong season, Harrison wasn't happy -- he wants more.
"I cannot mess up as much as I did last year," he said. "I can make more tackles. I can make more sacks. I can play the defense better. Nobody plays the perfect game."
What about his 3½-sack, nine-tackle, one-interception game against the Baltimore Ravens?
"One of those sacks I shouldn't have got because I rushed the wrong gap," Harrison said.
The Steelers have to love that desire. Woodley has it, too.
First one to 15 sacks wins?
"There will be competition," Woodley said. "But the most important thing is that we win on Sunday."
On Monday night, Greene showed the outside rushers some film of his playing days. He put a lot of emphasis on his bull rush, which was a trademark of his pass-rush skills. Greene had speed, but he also could overpower tackles.
While Harrison can do that, it should become a Woodley trademark.
"When he came and he got his hand on you, I saw a lot of offensive tackles fall down," Woodley said. "He brought it every play. He never gives up, and even when he was blocked, he countered to get to he quarterback. It's not just about speed. You have to have power. You can pick up a lot of stuff on film."
Greene seems to relish his teaching role, even if it is only for a week. If he can get Woodley close to doing the things the way he did when he played, watch out.
"We had LaMarr in mind because they have similar body types and approaches to rushing," Tomlin said. "Kevin is a passionate guy about the rush. It's great to see both guys embrace him."
Woodley might not have remembered the Greene football days, but Harrison did.
"I used to be a Browns fan," Harrison said. "There was a time I didn't like Kevin Greene."
Don't worry, James. You weren't going to be the teacher's pet anyway. That role appears to have been assumed by Woodley, the star in the making on the Steelers' defense.