LaMarr Woodley says it’s not so much the double teams, or the chip from a running back, or even the way an opposing offense might shift its protection scheme to his side of the field.
The absence of fellow former All Pro Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison has had a much less tangible effect on Woodley.
“I really can’t tell as far as, like, the protection schemes,” Woodley said.
But make no mistake. Like the rest of the 1-2 Steelers, Woodley is ecstatic that Harrison is on track to make his season debut Sunday when the Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) come to Pittsburgh.
Harrison practiced fully on Wednesday, and all indications are he will be on the field chasing Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.
“He definitely makes a difference,” Woodley said of Harrison. “Then, (offenses) kind of have to pick their poison.”
Long known as Blitzburgh under coordinator Dick LeBeau because of its reputation for racking up sacks, the Steelers defense has only five of them through three games. Harrison might not be a cure-all, but he certainly can’t hurt for a game some Steelers are already calling a “must-win.”
“When he’s out there, he’s definitely a difference-maker for us,” defensive end Brett Keisel said.
The player who would figure to most benefit is Woodley, who has averaged .83 sacks per game (counting playoffs) over the past four-plus seasons. Woodley has had one sack in each of the past two games out of his customary left outside linebacker position, but Harrison’s replacements on the other side haven’t come close to matching his sack production. Harrison has 58 sacks and needs two more to tie Joey Porter for second on the franchise career list.