Aug 10, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Al Woods (65) reacts after registering a sack against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The New York Giants won 18-13. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers: Al Woods gets opportunity to shine vs. Ravens


One of the good stories that emerged from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday was the performance of Al Woods.

Woods, a backup defensive end in Dick LeBeau‘s 3-4 scheme, surprised many during training camp when he took reps at nose tackle and turned in a surprisingly good camp.

Sep 27, 2013; London, United Kingdom; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Al Woods (65) at practice at the London Wasps rugby club practice facility at the Twyford Avenue sports ground in preparation for the NFL International Series game against the Minnesota Vikings. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When Steve McLendon went down with an injury against Cleveland, the LSU product stepped in and recorded four tackles and a surprising two sacks.

With McLendon already ruled out Thursday’s tilt against the Baltimore Ravens, it gives the fourth-year pro an opportunity to make an impact.

While Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin wouldn’t go as far as to say Woods would start Thursday night, you can bet that he will see a good bit of snaps at the minimum.

With defensive end Brett Keisel possibly making his return to the lineup, one option would be to shift Ziggy Hood over to the nose, but given the way he played on Sunday, I would expect Woods to get more of a look.

If that’s the case the challenge for him is simply to maintain the high level of play he showed against the Browns.

In what always promises to be a very physical contest against the Ravens, it will be key that he does. No one expects Woods to step in and record two or more sacks every week, but if he can make some plays along the way it will help.

Sometimes all a competitor needs is an opportunity.

Woods could be getting his on Thursday night.

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