Linebacker LaMarr Woodley loves to rush the quarterback. It's what he excels at. It's what he does. It's his passion.
His hope is he gets to do it a lot more this year.
Woodley said last year he rushed the quarterback about 50 percent of the time on passing downs, dropping back in coverage the other 50 percent. He wants to see the scale tip more in favor of rushing this year.
"They pay me to rush, so hopefully I will be rushing and not covering receivers and tight ends down the field," said Woodley. "I felt like I dropped back a lot last year, but that was the scheme. I would like to get back to doing more rushing."
Woodley finished the 2012 season with four sacks, with a hamstring injury and high ankle sprain contributing to that number being down from nine in 2011. This year he wants to bring the sack numbers back up again.
"My game is predicated on sacks and this defense is predicated on getting to the quarterback, making him make bad decisions and allowing our secondary to make plays," said Woodley. "I am asked to drop more. Other outside linebackers rush more. When my number is called I just have to make it count."
Woodley is going to have someone different lining up outside with him this year after James Harrison wasn't retained and then went on to sign with the Cincinnati Bengals. Whether it's veteran Jason Worilds or rookie Jarvis Jones that steps up, getting both to develop is going to be a key.
"It's definitely important," said Woodley. "Here in Pittsburgh outside linebackers play off one another. When there are two good ones here they have a lot of sacks and help the team out because you can't just focus on one guy."
Woodley likes what he has seen so far from Jones in camp, even though it's just a few days in.
"He looked good, not just in backs-on-backers," said Woodley. "Going against our offense he is looking good, dropping back in coverage, rushing the quarterback. We went against the offensive line in one-on-one pass rush and he did a great job."