LaMarr Woodley will be joining James Harrison at the Pro Bowl after all.
Woodley, the Steelers' third-year outside linebacker who led the team with 13.5 sacks this season, has been added to the AFC roster for the game, which will be played on the Sunday before Super Bowl XLIV in Fort Lauderdale. He replaces Houston's Brian Cushing, who withdrew from the game because of a variety of injuries.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Cushing, voted the NFL defensive rookie of the year, has foot, knee and rib injuries, along with a broken pinkie finger that may require surgery.
"I am really disappointed not to play in this year's Pro Bowl," Cushing said. "This was a long season and due to several injuries, specifically my knee and finger, we've made a decision to rest my body."
The three linebackers initially voted to the AFC's roster for the Pro Bowl were Harrison and Denver's Elvis Dumervil as the starters, with Cushing as the backup. Woodley was a first alternate in that voting, and therefore became the first to be added when Cushing was unable to participate.
In his second season as a full-time starter, Woodley set a franchise record by recording at least half a sack in eight straight games, and during those eight games he recorded 11.5 sacks. Greg Lloyd held the previous record, which was a six-game streak during the 1994 season.
Woodley's streak actually can be considered still active, because he did it during the final eight games of the 2009 regular season.
"He's a guy who's come on in the late part of the season all three years he's been here; evidently that's a part of his game," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "It's about rhythm, his moves come together, he develops a feel for it, and he sharpens his sword over the course of the season, which is good. You look for guys who are on the rise as the season goes on, and he's proven through his first three years in the league that that's kind of how he plays the game. And that's what you need; you need guys whose arrows are pointing up at the end of the road."