With Steelers linebacker James Harrison sliding into the twilight of his career, the next great outside linebacker in the Steelers’ 3-4 defense could be LaMarr Woodley.
But linebackers coach Keith Butler thinks that Woodley has to want it.* So far, he apparently hasn’t.
“Wood has to decide if he wants to be a great player,” Butler recently said, via Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.* “When he decides that, he is going to be a bear.”
Last year, Woodley got off to a slow start, with only 1.5 sacks in four games.* Butler thinks that happened because Woodley showed up too for camp too heavy.
“He just wasn’t in shape,” Butler said.* “He’ll tell you that.* If he don’t tell you that, I’ll tell you that, I don’t care.* He has to get his big butt in shape, I tell him that all of the time:* Don’t come to camp weighing 290.”
This year, Woodley was closer to his listed weight of 265.* And Butler is happy.* But he still wants Woodley to not be content.
“A lot of guys come in the league and have a lot of natural ability,” Butler said.* “At some point in time they realize they have to work in order to stand out in this league.* If you don’t work, you are just going to be another guy — a good player, but not a great player.”
If Woodley can finally become that great player, the Steelers can continue to have a great defense, even after current anchors like Harrison and Troy Polamalu and Brett Keisel are gone.