Veteran defensive lineman Chris Wormley has had the opportunity to start for the Pittsburgh Steelers all season due to the unavailability of Stephon Tuitt, who has been on the Reserve/Injured List all season, and has not shown any signs of being removed any time soon.
The former third-round pick out of Michigan spent the first three years of his career with the Baltimore Ravens before they traded him to Pittsburgh, along with a seventh-round pick, in exchange for a fifth-round selection. Wormley’s first season here was rather uneventful, for the most part, but he’s had plenty of opportunities this year.
And he had perhaps one of the best games of his career yesterday, against his former team, which included a career-high two and a half sacks, one of which he split with T.J. Watt, and which frankly he orchestrated. Wormley never had more than a sack and a half in a single season prior to this year, during which he now has five, now nearing 600 snaps played, his previous high being 448.
“I told Worm when he got here, ‘man, when a team trades you within the division, they’re telling you what they think of you’”, head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters after the game when he was asked about Wormley’s performance, which also included two tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. “I hope he always plays like that when he sees him”.
This was Wormley’s second game against the Ravens since the trade (having been on the Reserve/Injured List for the first meeting between the two teams last year). He played 24 snaps in the first game, with two tackles. That was the most snaps he’d played in a game all season until the finale when the team was resting starters, during which he recorded his only sack of the season on the Cleveland Browns’ Baker Mayfield.
Considering the fact that the defense, particularly the run defense, has not been great this season, it can’t be said that the Steelers haven’t missed a beat with Wormley in place of Tuitt, but all of these problems certainly are not his. In fact, he is generally graded among their better defenders by outlets such as Pro Football Focus, for whatever that might be worth to the user.
But a player always deserves credit when he plays well. Wormley definitely stepped up to the plate against the Ravens and had certainly one of the best games of his career. The Ravens did manage to rush for 107 yards, but it didn’t happen so easily, and took a few miracle scrambles from Jackson to happen. And they limited him to just 55 rushing yards, their lowest in three games against him.