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History of the Decade: Linebackers

Written by Dan Gigler on .

A look at the Steelers’ success and failure at linebacker in the draft and free agency since 2003 ...

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116: Career sacks by James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley as Steelers (214 combined games)

89: Career sacks by Greg Lloyd and Kevin Greene as Steelers (195 combined games)

DRAFT: The linebackers are the playmakers of Dick LeBeau’s 3-4 zone defense and to that end the Steelers have invested regularly at the position, however the returns are varied.

The Steelers used their 2007 first and second round picks on Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley respectively, and both are crucial to the success of the defense as it is comprised now. The line of succession at outside linebacker could be the envy of a monarchy, and Jason Worilds may assume James Harrison’s spot as soon as this coming season.

2012 rookie Sean Spence is an unknown commodity, having suffered a preseason knee injury that ended his year. Likewise, Chris Carter has made a few starts, but finished both of his NFL seasons on IR. Stevenson Sylvester is a special teams mainstay, but hasn’t been able to usurp Larry Foote as a starter.

Others like Alonzo Jackson, Thaddeus Gibson and Bruce Davis had impressive collegiate pedigrees but were jettisoned quickly. A 2004 pick, Nathanial Adibi, is now a police officer in Hampton, Va.

FREE AGENCY: This category essentially starts and ends with the arguably greatest undrafted free agent in the team’s history, James Harrison, who re-joined the Steelers in 2004 (he was first signed by the team in 2002).

Foote was re-acquired from Detroit in 2010 after a one-season stint in his hometown. Other linebackers were added for depth and special teams prowess -- Clint Kriewaldt, Keyaron Fox, Patrick Bailey and Andre Frazier to name a few.

Brandon Johnson, Adrian Robinson and Marshall McFadden are all UFAs currently with the team.

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