Steelers Rookie WR J.D. Woods Knows Just How Important Special Teams Is To His Future

On Tuesday, I listed Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver J.D. Woods as one of five undrafted players whom I think have a small chance to make the 53 man roster out of training camp this year. Woods certainly faces long odds, but he knows that if he is going to beat those odds, it will be because he\’s able to not only contribute as a fifth or sixth wide receiver on offense, but on special teams in addition.

“Right now it\’s going pretty good,” said Woods, who was back in West Virginia making an appearance at an area collectable store. “Right now, special teams. You have to work hard at special teams, not only special teams, but when you go in as a wide receiver, as myself, understand the play book and just be on point. Because at that level, it\’s all about precision, so you\’ve got to be in your spot when you\’re told to be in your spot.”

Woods apparently played some special teams while at West Virginia and was pressed further on the topic during his recent interview as it relates to him possibly making the roster.

“It\’s a 53 man roster, so I just want to be on that 53 man roster, whether that\’s special teams working my way up, I just want to make a way and do what the coaches ask me to do,” said Woods.

Woods is probably pretty used to beating long odds by now; however, as I wrote in a previous post, the West Virginia coaching staff had demoted Woods to the scout team last spring because they weren\’t sure he would even be academically eligible for the 2012 season. After he buckled down and got his grades up, he was moved into the slot position and then back outside prior to the start of the season.

Despite being the third receiving option on the team behind Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, Woods still managed to register 61 catches for 637 yards and four touchdowns last season after only having 25 catches for 272 yards total in his previous two seasons. Because he was considered a one-year producer and a No. 3 wide receiver that benefited mostly from single coverage, Woods was not invited to the 2013 NFL Combine and was forced instead to show teams what he had during his pro day.

With Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert in attendance, the 6 foot, 203-pound Woods reportedly ran a 4.56 forty-yard dash to go along with a 31.5 vertical jump and a 09\’05” broad jump. His workout must have been enough as Woods was one of 15 undrafted players signed by the Steelers immediately after the 2013 NFL Draft concluded.

When Woods joined the Steelers for their offseason practices, he didn\’t have to introduce himself to a few players in attendance as fullback Will Johnson, center Joe Madsen and linebacker Terence Garvin all went to West Virginia as well. Woods talked about having former teammates of his now on the Steelers with him.

“It\’s definitely a motivation to see those guys out there just because you can relate to them,” said Woods. “Because they came through the same process as you. Went to the same university, same workouts, so to see them out there, you\’re just like, man, my guys are out here. You get a great feeling about it. Just It just you want to have a great practice not only for yourself and your family, but just for those guys.”

Woods battle for a roster spot has only just begun, and he will next get a chance to show what he has when the Steelers start their training camp late next month at Latrobe.

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