In case you missed the posts earlier this week, we are doing a special series on the veterans signed by Reggie McKenzie and the Oakland Raiders. But not all of the veterans, we are focusing on those guys who many around the league and in the media have said are done. Guys who were once Pro Bowl caliber players but who have struggled in recent years and appear as though their best years are behind them. Many of these guys are being written off by others so I wanted to take a look at what happened to these one time stars.
With 57 career sacks, a Pro Bowl appearance, an All Pro award and a Super Bowl ring, Woodley has already had a fairly impressive run in the NFL. But after back to back years plagued by injuries and lackluster results many believe his career may be coming to an end despite the fact that he is only 29 years old.
Woodley’s problems started in 2011. After getting off to a hot start and tallying nine sacks through the first half of the season. But then he suffered a hamstring injury that kept him mostly on the bench the remainder of the season. When he got back to the team in 2012, things did not get much better. He missed a large portion of the offseason with a groin injury and missed significant time during the year with ankle and hamstring injuries. Around this time, there were reports that the reason for Woodley’s issues was his work ethic and that he was not keeping himself in shape. One team mate said “He tells us he works out, but we didn’t see it. He wasn’t in shape. That has to be a reason why he was always hurt.”
The Steelers were happy with his condition when he showed up for training camp in 2013 but his injury woes didn’t go away. On December 17, Woodley was placed on the IR with a calf injury ending his season. After all of his injury problems and with only seven sacks to his name over the past two seasons combines, the Steelers decided to cut ways with Woodley and he soon found himself wearing Silver and Black.
Now, the Raiders are hoping that Woodley can get at least part of his “groove” back with a position change that they believe will play o his strong suit. Woodley likes to play down hill as a pass rusher. When he played outside linebacker with the Steelers, he had to work to hold that habbit in check as his first step was not always going to be headed downhill. Raiders hope that going back to the position he played in college, defensive end, will help him get back to playing at a high level by allowing him to focus on what he does best, get into the backfield.