Steelers may soon be thin at defensive end

March, 12, 2014
Mar 12
5:50
PM ET
PITTSBURGH -- Defensive end is starting to shape up as a position where the Steelers could be woefully thin.

Woods
A source confirmed to ESPN.com earlier reports that defensive end Al Woods visited the Titans today and also has scheduled visits with the Packers and the Cardinals.

That looks anything but promising for Woods returning to the Steelers following a season in which he saw the first extended playing time of his NFL career and made the most of it.

Woods played in all 16 games last season, starting two of them, and recorded 20 tackles and a pair of sacks.

The 6-foot-4, 307-pounder can play both defensive end and nose tackle, and I would have thought the Steelers would make re-signing him more of a priority, especially since Brett Keisel and Ziggy Hood are also unrestricted free agents.

Whether the interest that Woods has received this early in free agency caught the Steelers off guard remains to be seen. But he looks like a long shot to return to Pittsburgh given the interest the fourth-year veteran is attracting from other teams.

Hood, meanwhile, visited the Jaguars today, according to the Florida Times-Union’s Ryan O’Halloran, and there doesn’t appear to be anything happening on the Keisel front.

As it stands the only defensive ends the Steelers have on their roster are Cameron Heyward, Brian Arnfelt and Nick Williams.

Arnfelt, who spent most of last season on the practice squad, played in two games in 2013. Williams, a seventh-round pick last year, spent the entire season on injured reserve, and he was considered a project when the Steelers drafted him.

The Steelers obviously have to add more defensive ends, but it doesn’t look like a great year to fill that position in free agency or the draft.

That could bode well for Keisel, who has said he feels like he still has a couple of seasons left in him and wants to play his entire career for the Steelers.

Right now fans are probably nervous about where the Steelers stand at defensive end, and rightfully so. But they should give the organization the benefit of the doubt that it has a plan at defensive end, one that will come together in due time.

Scott Brown

ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter

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