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Old 05-27-2009, 11:41 PM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Steelers' Woods on move via special teams

Steelers' Woods on move via special teams
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...s_627070.html#
By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, May 28, 2009

In 2004, Donovan Woods established Oklahoma State freshman records with 13 touchdown passes and 1,855 yards of total offense. During that same season, he ran for a touchdown against a UCLA freshman named Bruce Davis, whom he later bested for playing time as a Steelers rookie.

Woods' football career has taken some curious turns. He's gone from averaging 35.3 yards per touchdown pass as a freshman quarterback in college to stopping quarterbacks from the other side first as a college safety and now as an NFL linebacker.

"I feel like I still have a lot of learning to do," said Woods, whose next career turn is another position change. After playing outside linebacker last year as an undrafted free agent, Woods is making a switch to inside linebacker.

"This is going into only my third year playing linebacker. Most guys have been playing linebacker for a lot longer than three years," Woods said. "Hopefully, my best years are in front of me.''

Woods is hopeful he'll remain at the same position long enough to play it well enough and remain on the roster.

Switching to inside linebacker from outside linebacker can be a difficult transition for a veteran, much less a second-year pro, such as Woods, who played quarterback his first two seasons in college.

"At outside linebacker, we get to pass-rush a lot," he said."That's something I like doing. Who doesn't like rushing the passer? You don't get to do that as much playing inside because you're covering and doing things like that.

"This is a talented group. There's not going to be a lot of guys that can come in and just play right away. I started outside last year, so I was learning out there. There's some things I understand (better), but I'm playing more inside."

Woods made the roster last season, thanks to his athleticism and ability on special teams. He made his NFL debut in the 2008 opener against Houston and recorded two special teams tackles. In his second game, he played on a unit that limited Cleveland's Joe Cribbs to an average of 8.8 yards on five punt returns.

Woods' special teams work helped keep Davis, the Steelers' third-round draft pick last season, inactive. But Woods was slowed by a hamstring injury and appeared in just four games before he was released. He later was re-signed and appeared in one more game, then was re-signed to the practice squad.

For now, Woods is ticketed for special teams in the NFL.

"That's where a lot of young guys are going to make their reputations," he said. "That's where I'm going to make mine. Go out there on special teams and try to be as exciting as I can. Do what I'm supposed to do and be solid.

"I'm just trying to see as much as I can, learn and be in as many situations as I can, because everything I see helps me that much more. As long as I'm here and continuing to learn this defense and continuing to get better as a professional, I think I have a chance.''

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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