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Old 09-18-2009, 11:03 PM   #1
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Default Steelers Keyaron Fox a pleasant surprise

Steelers Keyaron Fox a pleasant surprise
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...s_643898.html#
By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, September 19, 2009

It didn't seem like a big deal when the Steelers signed a little-known linebacker named Keyaron Fox prior to last season.

Now, the move is looking like a stroke of genius.

Fox became a special teams stalwart in his first year with the Steelers, where his 21 tackles were second on the team. This year, an ankle injury to Lawrence Timmons elevated Fox into the starting lineup in the opener against Tennessee, and he recorded a team-high nine tackles.

Timmons has practiced all week and is expected to play against the Chicago Bears Sunday. If he starts, Fox would return to his special teams duties. However, even if Timmons does play, there's a chance Fox could make his second consecutive start at "buck'' linebacker.

Either way, Fox has surfaced as a valuable team member and one of the best acquisitions in the Mike Tomlin era.

"We've always liked him,'' defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said this week. "He's got good speed. He's an aggressive player. He's got real good playing strength. He's a smart guy and he competes. He gives you his best performance when the chips are on the table and that's what you're looking for.''

When Fox joined the Steelers in 2008, there was no fanfare trumpeting his arrival. He played four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and failed to win a starting job on one of the NFL's weakest teams. It was uncertain how much of an impact Fox would have upon joining a team two years removed from winning Super Bowl XL.

But Fox's play was a revelation. He became a star on special teams, providing big hits in kickoff coverage. He was so effective that his special teams contributions led the coaching staff to consider how he would look at inside linebacker.

"I think the biggest thing about my time in Kansas City is I was playing behind some guys (including first-round draft pick Derrick Johnson). I only had a few opportunities in four years to show what I could do,'' Fox said. "I felt like a lot of my talent was hidden, which is the reason why people didn't really know about me.''

When Fox visited the Steelers, he didn't know what to expect. But upon meeting with LeBeau, linebackers coach Keith Butler and coach Mike Tomlin, his spirits soared.

The Steelers not only liked Fox, but they also envisioned a clearly defined role at linebacker they believed he could fill.

"They told me I was going to get a fair shot to show what I've got,'' Fox said. "And from everything that was said, I can see that came out to be true.''

"He's been one of our top special teams players since he's been here,'' LeBeau said. "Usually those kind of players translate over to excellent scrimmage players, and that's what we're seeing.''

Said Fox: "At Kansas City, special teams wasn't really my focus. It didn't spark my interest. Once I got here, the work ethic that was already in place helped me to become a better special teams player. When you've got a defense that's playing as hard as they do, you want to carry that over to special teams.''

Despite his contributions at linebacker against Tennessee, Fox said he has only scratched the surface of his talent.

Last season, he made the transition from Kansas City's 4-3 defense to the Steelers' 3-4 alignment. This year, he made the move from "buck'' inside linebacker to "mack'' inside linebacker when Timmons was injured.

"Last week was my first time playing 'mack' linebacker as a starter and being put in that situation in less than a week (prior to the opener),'' Fox said. "I had to make some adjustments. That's just the tip (of the iceberg) for me.''

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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Old 09-18-2009, 11:58 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers Keyaron Fox a pleasant surprise

It sure would be nice if he could take a few pays from Farrior. That might even extend Farriors career a bit longer.

I mean, I LOVE the way Farrior plays. But imagine if we are up by 10 points, sending out Fox for a few series just to give Farrior some rest. Relax his body for the next game.
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Old 09-19-2009, 12:07 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers Keyaron Fox a pleasant surprise

i want farrior in as much as possible, but if he needs a breather im glad we got fox, same with timmons, i just wasnt timmons to stay healthy
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Old 09-19-2009, 06:37 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers Keyaron Fox a pleasant surprise

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Originally Posted by Preacher View Post
It sure would be nice if he could take a few pays from Farrior. That might even extend Farriors career a bit longer.

I mean, I LOVE the way Farrior plays. But imagine if we are up by 10 points, sending out Fox for a few series just to give Farrior some rest. Relax his body for the next game.
who would be the player to take the role of Farrior if he were to retire early??

do we have a player that can run the defense like Farrior does, he is LeBeau's defensive QB.

Harrison?
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Old 09-19-2009, 07:16 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers Keyaron Fox a pleasant surprise

[/QUOTE]Last season, he made the transition from Kansas City's 4-3 defense to the Steelers' 3-4 alignment. This year, he made the move from "buck'' inside linebacker to "mack'' inside linebacker when Timmons was injured.[QUOTE]

I have been around football all my life but could someone tell me the difference between buck inside and the mack inside. I have heard it before but I don't know what it means. Could someone help me on this .
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Old 09-19-2009, 08:45 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers Keyaron Fox a pleasant surprise

I know it's a huge longshot, but i wonder if we might resign him to a long-term contract, make him Farrior's heir apparent in a couple of years....
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Old 09-19-2009, 02:59 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers Keyaron Fox a pleasant surprise

It sure is nice to have depth. Keyaron Fox is a keeper and I was very happy when we resigned him in the off season. Can't wait to get Timmons back on Sunday.
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Old 09-20-2009, 04:01 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers Keyaron Fox a pleasant surprise

Last season, he made the transition from Kansas City's 4-3 defense to the Steelers' 3-4 alignment. This year, he made the move from "buck'' inside linebacker to "mack'' inside linebacker when Timmons was injured.
Quote:

I have been around football all my life but could someone tell me the difference between buck inside and the mack inside. I have heard it before but I don't know what it means. Could someone help me on this .
One is the strong side ILB (TE side) and the other is the weak side inside LB.
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Old 09-20-2009, 05:54 AM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers Keyaron Fox a pleasant surprise

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Originally Posted by pancake View Post
Last season, he made the transition from Kansas City's 4-3 defense to the Steelers' 3-4 alignment. This year, he made the move from "buck'' inside linebacker to "mack'' inside linebacker when Timmons was injured.

One is the strong side ILB (TE side) and the other is the weak side inside LB.
Thanks Pancake I guess we all learn something new everyday.
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