It has been a bit of a coming-of-age season for Pittsburgh Steelers defender Jason Worilds, the Steelers linebacker who has become an integral part of the league's top defense in only his second year out of Virginia Tech. In 12 games, seven of which were starts, he has registered 38 tackles and three sacks. His Steelers take on the Denver Broncos on Sunday and Worilds recently chatted with Shutdown Corner about the game, the season and what's in a name.
Shutdown Corner: Denver runs that tricky option, something not traditionally seen in the NFL. How tough will that be to stop?
Jason Worilds: They'll be a good challenge, they're very strong. A lot of what they do is to try and keep their quarterback mobile.
My division in the ACC we played Georgia Tech and that's all option. Going against teams like that, I'm going to have to go back to some of those old college tapes and see what I did in those games (laughing). Maybe I'm a bit more prepared for it than the guys who haven't played in college for a while; I might be a bit more familiar with facing that type of offense.
SC: In Tim Tebow, the Broncos have a quarterback built like a tailback.
How do you tackle someone so big, so mobile?
JW: You take him down like you take anyone else down. I'm going straight at him, no different technique or nothing. If he runs like a running back, we're going to hit him like a running back. You know he's a big guy, you know you're not going to take him down with one arm. You tackle him the right way and it doesn't matter.
SC: After a solid enough rookie season, you've taken definite strides, showing an improvement in tackles and sacks. What's the reason for the success?
JW: I'm just going to always try and play. Every opportunity I get I try to get better, I just want to get on the field more. The past few weeks I've been playing better and better. I'm feeling more confident, understanding the defense more. There's a good foundation now heading into year three and that excites me.
What I'm excited about is our whole team, not just me. We're moving forward even with the injuries we had this year. We understand people are going to get hurt but when that happens, people need to step up. When one guy goes down, we reload so to speak. That's what is great about this team.
SC: The Steelers certainly have a rep around the league for being a hard-hitting defense.
JW: I don't think we care what people say or not but what matters is that we have the No. 1 defense in the league. We've been playing solid.
It's not about being intimidating as much as it is about how we play and how we approach each game. When we put on the Steelers helmet, there's an expectation of how you will play. Every time we do that, we try to play a certain way. As long as we do that, it doesn't matter what people say.
SC: Your surname originally ended with Adjepong when you went to college, the name of your father, but you switched while in college so that it was Worilds to pay tribute to your mother.
JW: I was born Jason Worilds. My father put his name on the end of mine — but when I was in college, I think between my redshirt freshman and redshirt sophomore year, I wanted to do something for my mom. I wanted her name so that when the announcer said it I wanted him to be saying her name.
So I had it legally changed so that Worilds was at the end. It was my tribute to her, just a quiet way I could acknowledge all her efforts.
My mom appreciated it. Hopefully it made her smile, hopefully it made her day. I hope I make her proud. I know she was there when they first announced it and it made her very happy and I'm glad I could do something for her after all she's done for me.
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer