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3 who were ready when called upon

Posted Oct 17, 2013

The challenge for every player upon losing a starting job is to stay motivated, stay focused, and stay ready if and when another opportunity materializes. It’s a standard expectation that’s often stated by coaches, and it’s one clearly understood by the players.

But such transitions – from the starting lineup to a role player – can still be difficult.

“It’s easier said than done, especially when you feel as though you could contribute, when you feel you could be a reason why the team wins,” linebacker Jason Worilds acknowledged. “Then again, I work here. I have to do what my boss tells me to do.”

The Steelers’ 19-6 victory over the Jets featured three players who had been starters on opening day against Tennessee but found themselves contributing to the team’s first win of the season coming off the bench.

ZIGGY HOOD
Hood started at defensive end opposite Brett Keisel in three of the first four regular season games but was informed prior to the Jets game that Cam Heyward would be assuming that role.

But with Keisel unavailable in the second half due to an injury Hood played extensively, anyway. He wound up registering one of three Steelers’ sacks (Hood’s first of the season).

“There are going to be opportunities out there,” Hood said. “I just have to be ready for anything and everything that comes my way. I’m going to prepare as if I was a starter, but also sit back and wait and maybe see some things the other guys can’t see on the field that help them out. Just try to be a team player. And then when my number’s called to get in there, react and play ball.

“It’s hard because you’re fired up, you’re geared up and then you have to chill out for a little bit. You keep telling yourself it’s going to be OK and when you get your opportunity, go in there and make something happen.”

CORTEZ ALLEN
Allen started at cornerback against the Titans, and then again in London against the Vikings after having missed a pair of games due to an ankle injury. But he played the vast majority of his snaps against the Jets in defensive sub-packages, the role Allen occupied most of last season.

“It’s a position I’m familiar with,” he said. “It wasn’t a change in a sense of what I needed to get done. I know the requirements of the position so to be in that position was natural.

“I just have to get back more in the swing of things being that I missed so much time. Regardless of where I am on the field, my job is to produce and help the team win as best I can.”

One of Allen’s two tackles against the Jets was a tackle for a loss on quarterback Geno Smith.

“Whether it’s at corner or at nickel, my job is to be there for my teammates,” Allen said.

JASON WORILDS
Worilds started the regular season opener but shared time at outside linebacker with rookie No. 1 pick Jarvis Jones in that game against the Titans, but he hasn’t started since.

Worilds estimated his playing time has been cut “drastically,” but against the Jets he was still able to produce a sack (his first), five tackles and a forced fumble on defense and another tackle on special teams.

“When you get in there you have to make the best of your opportunities,” he said. “We won, that’s the biggest thing. I’m going to continue to contribute every chance I get and hopefully they’ll give me more opportunities.

 “I think it was a good overall effort for everybody. In all phases of the game, we all contributed.”