Position preview: Outside linebacker

July, 16, 2014
Jul 16
3:00
PM ET
Next in a series that looks at every position on offense and defense with training camp approaching, we take a look at the Steelers' outside linebackers.

Returning starters: Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones. Worilds led the Steelers with eight sacks last season and finally enters a season entrenched as a starter. Jones, who started eight games as a rookie, is expected to make a big jump in his second season.

New faces: Arthur Moats, Jordan Zumwalt and Howard Jones. Moats signed a one-year, $795,000 contract after spending his first four seasons with the Buffalo Bills. The Steelers took Zumwalt with the first of their two sixth-round picks in the NFL draft and signed Jones as an undrafted free agent.

On the bubble: Chris Carter. The former fifth-round pick hasn’t been much more than a special-teams contributor in his first three seasons and is still in search of his first NFL sack. One thing that bodes well for Carter is that linebackers coach Keith Butler singled him out for praise during offseason practices.

By the numbers: The outside linebackers on the Steelers’ roster have 24 career sacks --18 of those belonging to Worilds.

Did you know: Moats ended one of the greatest streaks in NFL history with a jarring hit that knocked quarterback Brett Favre out of a 2010 game with a shoulder injury. Favre missed the Minnesota Vikings’ next game, ending his consecutive games played streak at 297.

Quotable: “Pass rush is all [about] believing that you can beat the guy and execute your craft. You’ve got to work on it. You just can’t go out there and not do pass rush during the week and go out there and expect to get a sack on Sunday. It’s not that easy, so you have to really work.” – defensive assistant Joey Porter, who recorded 60 sacks while playing for the Steelers from 1999-2006.

Outlook: Significant improvement on defense hinges on the Steelers getting a consistent pass rush from their outside linebackers. They need Worilds to build on what he did in the second half of last season and for Jones to come into his own as a pass-rusher. Moats is a solid reserve but the Steelers don’t have much depth at outside linebacker. Fans would love for the Steelers to re-sign James Harrison but that is unlikely – at least before the start of training camp.

Scott Brown

ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter

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