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Why Steelers won’t move LaMarr Woodley to the right side





Mark Kaboly  | Tribune-Review


The Steelers had three training camp practices – two of which didn’t include pads – so, of course, it’s time for a day off.


Well, don’t blame Mike Tomlin for that one


The collective bargaining agreement mandates at least one day off per week during training camp, so it’s not his decision.


To ease the pain, I kept a couple of nuggets back that you can chew on today to get through the off day.


* I know the first thing I thought about when James Harrison was released in the spring is that it would be a perfect time for the Steelers to move LaMarr Woodley from left outside linebacker to the more sack-happy right side.


I wasn’t alone either. Linebacker coach Keith Butler mulled over the concept as well.


“Sure, for a little bit,” Butler said.


But Butler quickly decided to leave Woodley on the left side because …


“You want a big-bodied guy over there on the left side because offenses are notoriously right-handed,” Butler said. “Most people run to the right, some people try to run to the left, but most run to the right, and we want a big body over there.”


That makes perfect sense to me, or does it?


In this day in age, do teams really favor one side over the other when it comes to running the ball?


The answer is no … well, at least what I found said no.


I looked up the top four rushing teams from last year – Redskins, Vikings, Seahawks, 49ers – and they all ran left more than they did right.


  • Redskins: 203 right, 234 left, 63 middle
  • Vikings: 145 right, 147 left, 73 middle
  • Seahawks: 199 right, 208 left, 103 middle
  • 49ers: 136 right, 214 left, 118 middle


OK, maybe the AFC North runs the ball to the right more than the rest of the league, so I looked that up.


Well, that’s not true either … other than the Steelers.


  • Steelers: 164 right, 111 left, 126 middle
  • Bengals: 158 right, 141 left, 109 middle
  • Ravens: 161 right, 195 left, 69 middle
  • Browns: 153 right, 165 left, 67 middle


The correct answer is that the Steelers favor the right side more than just about every other team so Butler’s argument for keeping Woodley on the left doesn’t really fit.


I still think Woodley could produce more pressure from the right side, but apparently, that’s not going to happen.


* Rookie first-round pick Jarvis Jones might start the opener, and he might not either – that’s the way Butler looks at it right now.


“Nobody in the NFL walks in and says they got the position locked up,” Butler said. “It rarely happens unless you have a breakdown in the position and you need to have somebody there. I am not going to say that we are going to play Jarvis. I just don’t know. That’s not up to me.”


Butler is waiting to see if Jones can grasp the entire offense. If he does, Butler would have no problem playing three linebackers — Woodley, Jones and Jason Worilds.


* There isn’t a tougher running back on the roster than Baron Batch. He’s is called the ‘Angry Man’ by his coaches and teammates for a reason.


But for Batch, he needs to be more consistent in everything he does. If he can do that then he has a legitimate chance of making this team at a very deep position.


* Inside linebacker Marshall McFadden is a guy you might want to keep an eye on next week when the Steelers play their first preseason game. The guy is a physical specimen, has a nasty streak and, most important, the Steelers love him.


Oh yeah, he can play, too.




Author: Mark Kaboly

Mark Kaboly is the Pittburgh Steelers beat writer for the Tribune-Review. Mark has covered more than 300 NFL football games in all 32 NFL cities as well as four Super Bowls -- XL in Detroit, XLIII in Tampa, XLV in Dallas and 50 in San Francisco. A Belle Vernon Area graduate, Mark earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a specialization in journalism from California University of Pennsylvania. Mark lives in Port Vue with his wife, Jennifer; daughter Briella; and boys Rocco and Bugsley Pug

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