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mesaSteeler
04-29-2009, 06:50 PM
Column: It's Timmons' time
http://www.timesonline.com/articles/2009/04/28/sports/steelers/doc49f7d22f2e3f3823775488.txt

By Mike Bires, Times Sports Staff
Published: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 12:13 AM EDT
The transaction is not yet official, but the Steelers and Larry Foote are parting ways.

The company line from team headquarters is that Foote has yet to be released. But it’s only a matter of time.

After all, it’s time for Lawrence Timmons to be an every-down player.

It’s time for Timmons to start, and the only option is at Foote’s spot at right inside linebacker.

Timmons was a first-round pick in the 2007 draft. He’s such an athlete ... quick, agile and explosive.

Last year as a 22-year-old second-year pro, he showed flashes of brilliance as a role player. But now, Timmons must play somewhere on a full-time basis.

Although he’s best suited at outside linebacker, Timmons is not going to unseat James Harrison or LaMarr Woodley. Unquestionably, those two make up the NFL’s most fearsome and productive set of outside ‘backers.

Timmons is also not going to unseat left inside linebacker James Farrior, an amazing athlete who played so well last year at age 33.

So, the odd man out is Foote.

From Foote’s perspective, he knew this was coming. He even talked about a demotion before the start of the 2008 season.

That’s why Foote asked for his release or a trade right after the Super Bowl. He knew his remarkable streak of 91 straight starts — the longest of any current Steeler — would end Sept. 10 when the Steelers open the 2009 season.

Timmons is already penciled in as a starter.

Because of deficient coverage skills, Foote rarely was on the field in nickel and dime packages on obvious passing downs. But he’s been tremendous against the run.

He was also one of the best teammates a player could have. He added so much to team chemistry. Everyone liked and respected him.

Reporters always flocked to his locker during the week at practice and after games to get his perspective on things.

Foote was a true warrior in many ways. He was good enough to start on two Super Bowl teams.

Yet, pro football is a business, so it makes perfect business sense for the Steelers and Foote to sever ties.

Foote is due to make $2.885 million this year. Timmons’ base salary is just $460,000.

Do the math.

With the Steelers struggling to stay under the $127 million salary cap, they’re looking at all kind of ways to make ends meet. One way to is unload a backup making close to $3 million.

Foote, who turns 29 on June 12, believes he has the skills to still be an NFL starter. That’s why he wants out of Pittsburgh. He knows it won’t happen here.

Not with Timmons waiting to unleash his full potential.

Mike Bires can be reached at mbires@timesonline.com