PITTSBURGH — Chris Wormley is coming off a career year in 2021, when he started 14 games after being thrust into the starting lineup by the absences of Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu, and he put up 7.5 sacks on 23 pressures and 10 quarterback hits. Following Tuitt’s retirement on Wednesday, there will once again be more than just depth expectations for Wormley in 2022. In fact, he is likely the favorite to start at defensive end in the base defense as things currently stand.
Surprising Wormley and others, Tuitt announced on Wednesday that he was leaving the game. For Wormley, that means that opportunity is knocking on his door in a big way. It will be a team effort to replace Tuitt, but Wormley feels like he is in line to take a significant part in the job of replacing Tuitt.
“I think I’m poised to fill that role,” Wormley said Thursday. “I’m excited for Tyson to come back healthy. I’m ready for the young guys to step in and play some meaningful snaps this season. As a unit, we’re excited. It starts with Cam. I am just excited for the opportunity again for this season.”
Wormley will look to replicate his season a year ago. He terrorized his former team, the Baltimore Ravens during that stretch. Playing more often, Wormley felt like he began to feel a rhythm. It is that rhythm that catapulted his end of the season stretch into a productive one. There are a lot of things that he can do technique-wise to replicate that career-best season, but Wormley is simply trying to find that rhythm that he found yet again.
“I have to stay consistent,” Wormley said. “I want to put in that work that I put in all of last year. I need to continue to be the player that I know I can be. Finding that rhythm that I found midseason last year again is key. I want to continue to work hard at my craft.”
One way to maximize the talents of the best player along the line is to have a healthy rotation. As a first-time starter especially, Wormley felt tired at times last year. With a potentially deeper room this year, those things could change.
“I think we have 14 to 16 guys in the room right and 80 or 90 percent of those guys could make an NFL roster,” Wormley said. “Obviously, they won’t all make the roster on this team, but I’m excited about that rotation. Guys can now be fresh in the fourth quarter and rushing the passer when it means the most. It can help when stopping the run. That’ll be our biggest thing. I think having those guys with the depth we have, will help us a lot this year.”
Whether or not Wormley takes that next step will be the question. The Steelers will be relying upon him to do so as he steps into the lion’s den with Tuitt now gone. However, Wormley is ready to rise to that occasion. It is no slight to Tuitt, but this is potentially the biggest opportunity of Wormley’s NFL football career.
“It allows me another opportunity to showcase what I can do,” Wormley said. “Not saying I didn’t want Tuitt back, but I know what I can do when I’m given a full year with the opportunity to play. Going into year six, time is ticking when it comes to being able to produce and make a life for myself.”
Wormley will still have to earn the job. DeMarvin Leal, Isaiahh Loudermilk, and outside veterans will be looking at the position as well. However, if he can replicate some of the success he had last season, Wormley may just have the inside track to the starting job.