By Teresa Varley
All around him rookies were being paraded in and out of the Steelers offices, from the training room, to the locker room to the weight room, just getting a feel of the lay of the land during their first visit to Pittsburgh as a member of the black and gold.
Linebacker LaMarr Woodley just kind of smiled, knowing what it was like for him a year ago when he was one of those rookies, his head spinning with so much new stuff being thrown at him.
He is happy to have a year under his belt, happy to know the ropes a little more now. But that doesn't mean he can sit back and relax.
"It's nicer now, not being a rookie out there on the field not knowing what you are doing," said Woodley. "But now I have to be a leader. You have other guys behind you now. We have some young guys who were drafted at our position and we lost a few guys that were here for a while at our position. I need to step up and be a leader now."
Even though he is only in his second season, and there are veterans such as James Farrior, Larry Foote and James Harrison at the linebacker position, Woodley is confident he can take on that leadership role.
"Young guys can be leaders by being vocal and going out there and doing what they have to do on the football field," said Woodley. "You also have to be a leader off the field. I think that is me. Over my years playing football that is the type of guy I was. I was a leader on and off the field."
With the departure of Clark Haggans via free agency Woodley doesn't just have a leadership role he wants to step into, he would like nothing more than to win the starting outside linebacker spot that Haggans held.
"I am definitely competing for the position; that is the first goal," said Woodley. "I want to come out of OTA's as the starter going in to camp and after that go in to the season as a starter. Then it's about helping this team win and get to where we need to be."
He has been preparing himself for that battle since last season ended, starting to work out just a little over a week after the team was eliminated from the playoffs.
"I feel like I didn't play many snaps anyway so my body wasn't worn down," said Woodley. "I was building up to get ready for this season right away. That was pretty much my whole offseason. I didn't travel much. I just stayed home with the family and worked out."
He hopes that it pays off. He played in 13 games last year with 13 tackles and four sacks. It was a just a taste and he is ready to go full force to become a starter.
"I had a little game experience so I know what to expect," said Woodley. "I had a few plays here and there, but now if you go in to the games as a starter you are going to play more and you have to be in better shape."