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Woodley shares credit for honor

Posted Nov 3, 2011

Linebacker LaMarr Woodley had a stellar month of October and was rewarded for it when he was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month.

Woodley, who practiced on a limited basis again on Thursday because of a hamstring injury, tore it up with an NFL-high seven and a half sacks during the month and added 25 tackles and an interception.

Woodley said it was an honor to win the award, but it’s not just about him, it’s about his teammates as well.

“It’s the other guys on the defense who allow me to make the plays,” said Woodley. “The secondary doing a great job in the back, the defensive line getting some push up front allowing the quarterback to hold the ball a little longer and allowing me to get in there.”

Woodley started the season off slowly with only one and a half sacks in the Steelers first four games, but once October hit he really picked things up.

“It’s improved a lot,” said Woodley of his play. “And we have been winning. I am happy with that because we have been winning and my game is stepping up. It’s a plus on both sides.

“The first thing is winning. It makes you feel that much better. We are setting the right goals to be where we want to be.”

Woodley’s sacks in October are the second-highest total in team history for any month of the season.

* * *

Woodley isn’t the only injured linebacker the Steelers have. Inside linebacker James Farrior is battling a calf injury that kept him out of the New England game. Farrior was listed as limited in practice for the second straight day, but said he did feel better following Thursday’s practice.

“It felt good,” said Farrior. “I put a lot of pressure on it today. I tried to push it a little bit and it felt pretty good.”

Farrior said it’s still too soon to tell if he will be able to play against the Ravens, but wants to be cautious.

“We will see,” said Farrior. “I am taking it day-to-day. I don’t want to do anything to further injure myself and be out more than I have to be. I have to be careful.”

With Woodley and James Harrison also on the injury report Farrior said there is a tendency to push to get back, but all three know they can’t rush and risk further damage.

“I know we are in it for the long haul,” said Farrior. “If you can’t go, you can’t go. You think about it but in the long term it’s best to know how you feel and determine it from that and not if another guy can go.”

There was some speculation in the media that Farrior could be out as long as a month, but he said that would not be the case.

“I don’t know where those reports came from,” said Farrior. “There was never a thought in our minds or the trainer’s minds.  

“I don’t plan on being out for a month. I am not built that way; my body is not built that way. We’ll try to give it a go this week, if we can go I will if not I will sit out.”

* * *

There is no doubt Sunday night’s game against the Baltimore Ravens is a big one, with first place in the AFC North on the line.

But Steelers players know it’s important to treat it the same way they do the other 15 games on the schedule, maybe with just a little extra edge this week being it’s a division opponent.

“It’s just another game, another must-win game for us,” said wide receiver Mike Wallace. “Obviously, it’s a division game, so it’s a little bit more important than the rest of them. I just see them as another team in our way trying to get to the Super Bowl. So, we’ve just got to knock them out like everybody else.”

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said you get a bit more fired up when it’s a divisional opponent, particularly on primetime, but you still have to go out and play your game.

“I am just trying to go out and play a football game,” said Roethlisberger. “People make a big deal out of it being Baltimore week, but my approach is always the same. It is a divisional opponent and you have to play good football. Like I said, we are just trying to win a football game. We know how good they are on defense, so we know it is going to take our best.”

Since losing to the Ravens the first week of the season, a game when they admit they didn’t play their best while the Ravens did, the Steelers are 6-1 and playing at a higher level.

“I think we’re just a little bit more in sync,” said Wallace. “I think everybody’s gelling together. We had a whole different offensive line from what we usually have the first week, but I think we have guys just playing at a high level right now. Guys are feeling more comfortable. Guys know their roles and are playing them well.”

* * *

Tight end Heath Miller continues to be one of the most dependable weapons on offense, with 30 receptions for 361 yards and two touchdowns so far this season. His teammates know how valuable he is, with many of those receptions coming at crucial points for the offense.

“Heath is a very an underrated player,” said Wallace. “He is always consistent. He is a perfect pro. The guy never says anything. That is why I think how good he is goes unnoticed because he never does anything when he makes big plays. He is as consistent as they come in the league. He is a big-time player.”

* * *

Injury update: Only two players missed practice on Thursday, G Doug Legursky (toe) and WR Emmanuel Sanders (knee). Five players were limited in practice, including LB James Farrior (calf), LB James Harrison (eye), T Jonathan Scott (ankle), WR Hines Ward (ankle), and LB LaMarr Woodley (hamstring).

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