TEMPE, Ariz. — Asked if he had a few moments to chat, LaMarr Woodley declined and continued walking off the field.
He then stopped, turned around, laughed, and readied himself for some questions.
The Arizona Cardinals’ linebacker would have been forgiven had he not wanted to stop and talk after an OTA practice on a day where the temperature would reach triple digits. But he was just joking around, having some fun.
Is that part of being a veteran who is comfortable in his own skin? Maybe, though his jovialness likely has more to do with the fact that, following an injury-shortened season in Oakland last year, Woodley is healthy and ready to contribute to a team with big-time aspirations.
“It definitely feels great man, to come to a team that was already good and already had great success,” he said. “The players, the coaches, just overall a great atmosphere, a great place to be around. From the staff — everybody, this is a comfortable situation.”
It was not long ago where Woodley was one of the best pass-rushing linebackers in the game. From 2008 to 2011 with the Pittsburgh Steelers he amassed 44 sacks, with a high of 13.5 in 2009. He made his first and only Pro Bowl that season, and parlayed his success into being the highest-paid defensive player in team history.
But he tallied just nine sacks in 2012 and ’13, leading the team to release him. And after signing a two-year deal worth up to $12 million with the Raiders, Woodley was limited to just six games and zero sacks due to a torn biceps that ultimately ended his season.
He was released in March, and just more than a week later agreed to a one-year deal with Arizona, where the 30-year-old is hoping to restore his value.
“My biggest thing is just staying on the field,” he said. “When I’m on the field I have production, so it’s not a thing of worried about when I’m on the field. It’s just staying on the field, and everything else will take care of itself. With this group of guys, me staying on the field helps the team.”
It certainly would.