The Pittsburgh Steelers responded to the loss of Javon Hargrave by acquiring fourth-year defensive end Chris Wormley via trade from the Baltimore Ravens. While he would not be a one-for-one replacement for what Hargrave brought to the defense, it would allow Tyson Alualu to transition into a role that focuses more on playing nose tackle.
Despite the fact that he has had three years in Baltimore playing in what is by and large also a traditional 3-4 defense, Wormley admits that there are things that he has had to adjust to in shifting to the Steelers’ defensive scheme, which has been made more complicated by the nature of the offseason.
“It’s definitely difficult, especially since we would’ve been practicing with each other in April, in-person meetings, walkthroughs, OTAs, and then in the minicamp”, he told Anthony Bellino of Michigan Sports Network. “That all didn’t happen this year. We had virtual meetings, which wasn’t the same”.
The Steelers acquired four veterans via trade and free agency, the others being fullback Derek Watt, tight end Eric Ebron, and lineman Stefen Wisniewski, all of whom have acknowledged the same thing—not having a traditional offseason has made things more complicated in transitioning into a new pro scheme.
“For someone who’s coming to a new team, a new system, it was difficult for me at first to get the plays down”, Wormley said. “A lot of it is the same movements, but it’s all different checks, different things when motion happens with the offense, different formations, how the offense comes out dictates what we do as defensive linemen”.
“Not to be able to do that until we hit camp, really two days ago—yesterday was our first helmeted practice—it has been difficult for me, but at the same time we’ve got a job to do”, he went on. “I’m adjusting myself, and learning the plays as fast as I can, because the train doesn’t stop for one player. We have a good defense, and I think we can be one of the best in the league, but it’s gonna take all 11 players on the field to accomplish something special. And if I want to be a part of that, I have to pick the playbook up”.
A third-round pick out of Michigan in 2017, he has played nearly 1000 defensive snaps over the course of his three-year career, including 448 for the Ravens in 2019, during which he put up 33 tackles, including two for a loss, and a sack and a half, in addition to two passes defensed. He has 54 career tackles with two and a half sacks and seven passes defensed since entering the NFL.