The Pittsburgh Steelers will learn quickly how valuable their decision to re-sign Chris Wormley might prove to be, as the fifth-year veteran is expected to be the ‘next man up’ along the defensive line, and they have already placed one of their starters, Stephon Tuitt, on the Reserve/Injured List.
While Tuitt will hopefully miss no more than the three games required, that is going to translate to a lot of work for Wormley, the former Baltimore Raven for whom the Steelers originally traded last March. He did not get many opportunities to contribute and demonstrate his worth in 2020, but this year is prepared to do anything asked of him, at any spot along the line.
“Left side, right side, 4-tech, inside. I think my weakest spot if I had to say would probably be nose, but I’m taking some reps at that, too, depending on the practice”, Wormley recently told reporters. “I’m just feeling healthy, feeling good, and year two in the system has been really beneficial”.
As you will surely remember (as though you could forget), the 2020 season was a very unusual one, played amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other things, it challenged players who were coming into a new team, as there were no OTAs, training camp was limited, the preseason was eliminated altogether, and in-person meetings were also select.
One would imagine that this was of the greatest concern for rookies who are just coming into the league, but it does also apply to veterans who were either traded, released, or signed with new teams during free agency. Wormley was one of those players, even caught off-guard by being traded, and who now feels in a much better place in his second season with the team. That also includes his ability and willingness to move around.
“It just depends on what package we’re in, what situation, what our scheme is that week”, he said of his role this season. “But the 3-4, I’m the 4i end, backing up Cam [Heyward] and Tuitt, and when it comes to the sub-package, I play all over inside. Depending on what Mike [Tomlin] and Coach [Karl] Dunbar want, I’m kind of a versatile guy when it comes to where they want me to be”.
For the first three weeks, at least, he will be filling in Tuitt’s role, which will be the traditional end in the 3-4 front, and as a defensive tackle in the Steelers’ most prevalent package, their nickel front. Out of 96 preseason defensive snaps, he played about two thirds of the time in a nickel front as a defensive tackle. He did not, however, play any snaps at nose.