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Steelers' Woodley gets sacks, but that's not all

With Super XLV only a few days from kickoff, there have been numerous comparisons made about the similar style of defense run by the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers.

Both teams utilize a 3-4 front. Both have premier nose tackles. Both have standout linebackers. Both have stars in the defensive backfield.

But Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley doesn't see too many real comparisons, especially at the outside linebacker position.

"Our outside linebackers do a little more," Woodley said at Wednesday's media event at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. "If you look at me and James Harrison, we don't rush every play. We drop back into coverage. We cover receivers downfield. We do a lot. We don't just get sacks."

No, they don't. And nobody illustrates the versatility of the Steelers' linebackers better than Woodley.

In the AFC Championship Game, with the New York Jets facing a third-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter, Woodley dropped back into coverage and knocked down Mark Sanchez's pass.

"I just read the offensive line, and I saw that he was standing up in a pass set," Woodley said. "He threw the ball, and it hit me right in the chest. I should have caught it and ran 99 yards."

Regardless, it was another sign of how Woodley has blossomed into an elite linebacker with the Steelers. He was a standout defense end at Michigan but has transformed himself into a linebacker who can do it all. And, yes, he still wreaks havoc in the backfield.

Woodley is one of only 10 NFL players since 1982 to register at least 10 career postseason sacks. And he has registered at least one sack in all six of his career playoff games, which is a league record.

Woodley's biggest postseason play came in Super Bowl XLIII, when his strip sack of Kurt Warner killed the Arizona Cardinals' final drive.

"It gets overshadowed because you have the big catch by Santonio Holmes," said Woodley, referring to Pittsburgh's game-winning touchdown catch. "But that [sack] was real big."

It sealed ring No. 6 for the Steelers organization.

But what makes Woodley such an impressive sackmaster?

As he put it, "The guy who you've got to get uncomfortable first is the guy you are rushing up against. He's got to feel you from the very first snap. You have to set the tone the first snap. Whether you bull rush him or whatever, you've got to let him know that's what he's getting all day.

"Once you get that first sack early, you get him off his heels a bit because now everybody is looking at him, blaming him like you could have got the quarterback hurt. Now, he's really trying to stop you. You need to keep beating him, physically and mentally."

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

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