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Old 05-30-2012, 11:24 PM   #1
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Default Lawrence Timmons the X-factor in takeaways

Kovacevic: L.T. the X-factor in takeaways

By Dejan Kovacevic - Tribune-Review
Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2012



There isn’t much to glean from football in shorts, but that hasn’t lessened the fun at the Steelers’ offseason training activities when watching that little No. 22 squirt through the line, spin around defenders and sprint into open grass untouched.

“Alley Cat!” Mike Tomlin booms from the sideline.

The cat in question is Chris Rainey, the 5-foot-9 running back and fifth-round draft pick out of Florida, and he’s a stick of dynamite each time he touches the ball. Might be even faster than Mike Wallace.

Just ask him.

“I’m confident I am the fastest,” Rainey will beam, “but I’m not going to say any names.”

Awesome.

Can he play defense?

I’m kidding, of course, but one thought I had as OTAs opened their second week Tuesday on a steamy South Side was that this offense could have enough speed to bend the time-and-space continuum. It will have Wallace, Antonio Brown and maybe Rainey if Tomlin and Todd Haley can carve out a scatback — or “Cat-back” — role. It’s elite athleticism whichever way Ben Roethlisberger turns.

But my second thought was that the projected starting defense is shaping up to be … well, gentlemen, let’s see those birth certificates …

Safeties: Troy Polamalu (31), Ryan Clark (32)

Cornerbacks: Ike Taylor (32), Keenan Lewis (26)

Linebackers: James Harrison (34), Larry Foote (31), LaMarr Woodley (27), Lawrence Timmons (26)

Line: Casey Hampton (34), Brett Keisel (33), Ziggy Hood (25)

Even with James Farrior gone, that’s an average age of 30.1, compared to 25.2 on offense.

Sure, the defense still has the big names, and that’s great. There isn’t a team in the NFL that wouldn’t embrace Polamalu, Harrison, Hampton and Keisel, even in their 30s.

And sure, the Steelers collectively boasted the league’s No. 1 defense in 2011. Fewest points allowed. Fewest yards per game.

But there’s more to this, and we’ve all seen it.

We saw Tim Tebow run up 316 yards and real, live NFL quarterbacks fare even better.

We saw three 100-yard rushers after one in the previous 50 games.

Above all, we saw the league-low 15 takeaways: 11 interceptions and four fumble recoveries. This after pretty much the same players had a superb 35 takeaways in 2010.

Those are all glaring signs of a group that had lost its edge. They performed well in the X’s-and-O’s sense, filled holes and finished tackles. But they no longer could make the “splash play,” per Tomlin’s term. They no longer had that X-factor, that singular force to wreak havoc both on the field and with opponents’ playbooks.

And that begs a question it’s not too soon to ask: Who will change that?

It still could be Harrison, Woodley or Polamalu if healthy, obviously, but health loomed large for all three last year.

My choice: Timmons.

(Waits for eyes to stop rolling all across Steelers Nation.)

No question, Timmons’ expected breakout last year was a dud. His tackles plummeted from 149 in 2010 to just 91. He brashly predicted 18 sacks and backed that up with, um, two. He failed to force a solitary fumble. But that’s largely because he bounced from inside to outside to cover for Harrison and Woodley being hurt, a tough move to make in training camp let alone from game to game.

Tomlin and his staff still have legitimate cause to set sky-high goals for Timmons. His positional coach, Keith Butler, calls him “one of the better linebackers in the league,” and it’s hard to disagree, at least in potential. Timmons has a rare combination of size, strength and speed that make him the Steelers’ most explosive big man. And with how he’ll be used in Dick LeBeau’s scheme, he’s just as likely to rush the quarterback as to drop into coverage and pick him off. Big play either way.

So, about that breakout …

“You know, I always go into a season wanting to have a breakout, and it’s that way this year, too,” No. 94 said yesterday after practice. “I want to go out and start with a bang, show my team what I can do.”

And about the team getting more takeaways …

“That’s going to start with me. It starts right here at these practices, getting the details down, then getting the job done.”

It’s overdue. Let’s see it.

Let’s also see other livelier legs contribute. Let’s see if Lewis can out-perform the slower William Gay he’s replacing. Let’s see more of Cam Heyward (23), Steve McLendon (26), Stevenson Sylvester (23) and Jason Worilds (24). Let’s give a shot to hyper-athletic corner Curtis Brown (23), who has dazzled at these OTAs.

Make it a competition in Latrobe: Whoever collects the most footballs wins.

http://triblive.com/sports/1880096-7...awrence-tomlin
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Old 05-31-2012, 01:45 AM   #2
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Default Re: Lawrence Timmons the X-factor in takeaways

I am to the point where when I see the age thing brought up I just stop reading. If we let another vet go and replaced him with a young guy they would say we are too young. Not only have we got younger but our vets have good young guys behind them.
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Old 05-31-2012, 09:10 AM   #3
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Default Re: Lawrence Timmons the X-factor in takeaways

He skewed those age numbers to write this article....McClendon could easily replace Hampton on that list, Heyward is right behind Keisel and I am sure will see more playing time this year, and we have a set of very young talented corners. You also never know if Sylvester is ready to step up or not.

Not worried.
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Old 06-12-2012, 01:09 AM   #4
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Default Re: Lawrence Timmons the X-factor in takeaways

Jacked Up: Steelers Timmons Should Channel #58

Jun 11th, 2012 by CraigSteelers



Just sitting around the house tonight thinking about what this Steelers defense could be like in 2012. Some key veterans are in need of really stepping up. Some rookies need to grow up quickly and contribute to a defense in need of depth.

There’s one player in particular who needs to refocus and channel some Steelers of old – Lawrence Timmons. Timmons will be entering his 6th season with the Steelers, and is coming off a season that was a falloff from 2010. Timmons had a lower output in tackles (42 less) and struggled to defend the pass across the middle. It’s unclear what happened between 2010 and 2011 that caused an uncharacteristic drop – he’s improved every year in all facets of the ILB position, and was poised to be even better in 2011. Granted, the Steelers still ranked as the top defense in the league in 2010.

However, with the loss of defensive leader and veteran James Farrior, it’s either Foote or Timmons who needs to step up in a big way.

And, I’m not just talking about routine play either – plugging holes, getting to ball carriers, batting down some passes. No. Timmons needs to become a force in the middle of the field for this Steelers defense. And who better to channel than good ol’ #58 to stir up some intimidation and bone crushing hits.

http://nicepickcowher.com/2012/06/11...ld-channel-58/
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Old 06-21-2012, 05:37 PM   #5
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Default Re: Lawrence Timmons the X-factor in takeaways

WILL THE REAL LAWRENCE TIMMONS PLEASE STAND UP?

WRITTEN ON JUNE 21, 2012 BY SYNDICATED SOURCES



Nothing is worse in Dynasty leagues than having a player who was a bona fide stud one year fall on his face the next. You get your hopes up and consider him a core player, a sure fire every week starter, then without warning or explanation he hits a slump so nasty that you want to drive to their city and beat them with a dead car battery. Having said that…

Will the real Lawrence Timmons please stand up?

In 2010, Timmons finished the year ranked as the LB7 in IDP leagues. He was machine of destruction. Through the first seven games he had racked up 56 solo tackles, 18 assists and three sacks. Nobody started off hotter! Then, something happened. Through the next six games he totaled just 20 solos, 17 assists, and zero sacks. He wasn’t hurt, there was no position change, and it wasn’t bad match-ups. It was like there was an imposter in his uniform. Timmons finished the year strong with 20 solos, seven assists, and a sack the final three weeks so everything was forgiven.

Fast forward to 2011 where all the “experts” had Timmons locked in as an elite tier, can’t miss, top five linebacker. There was very little reason to believe Timmons wasn’t going to build on his 2010 numbers. He was “The Man” in Pittsburgh – the next great Steelers linebacker following in the footsteps of all-time greats. Week one rolls around and he blows the stat sheet up against the Ravens with ten solos and two assists. Everything seemed on track as the LB1 we drafted was panning out. The next week, five solos and three assists – an average game, nothing to worry about. Week three versus the Colts was a snooze fest. It was three and out after three and out, so the stat sheet was not kind to the IDP players. One solo, two assists was all Timmons could tally. Just a bad match up, nothing to worry about, right?

From weeks five through eight, things got real interesting for Timmons’ owners. James Harrison, Pro Bowl outside linebacker, went down with an injury and Timmons was shifted into his spot. During those four games he TOTALED seven solos and five assists, including a week six goose egg. Everyone held their heads up though, Harrison was coming back in week nine and the Steelers were gonna get their uber-stud back on track. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Timmons slid back to his inside linebacker spot and continued his disappearing act. Only one more time in the 2011 season did he break double digit total tackles, which was in week 16.

Let’s look at his overall numbers from the past two seasons:

Season Tackles Tackles for Loss Assists Fum Recovered Fumbles Forced INTs Sacks Passes Defensed

2011 68 4 25 0 1 1 2 5
2010 96 10 39 2 2 2 3 10

As you can see, his numbers were down across the board. His total tackles dropped by 30% – that’s an insane amount. For playing four games as an outside linebacker, his big play numbers dipping in every category is also alarming. Simply put, he was invisible in almost every aspect of the game.

The thing that confuses me the most is the fact the Steelers drafted Jason Worilds as the heir apparent to James Harrison, but when Harrison went down, Worilds was left on the bench for an out-of-position Timmons. Furthermore, the Steelers have Stevenson Sylvester and Sean Spence on the roster learning the inside linebacker positions. That makes me wonder if the Steelers view their best option as Timmons and LaMarr Woodley as the future outside linebackers and Sylvester and Spence as the inside linebackers.

Timmons’ versatility makes him a great NFL player and a risky IDP investment. In Dynasty leagues, the investment is already made and his value is at an all-time low. So, there is no value in trying to move him now. He is just 26 years old, so there is plenty of time for him to bounce back. Maybe 2011 was shot simply because he couldn’t get into a groove switching back and forth between linebacker spots. It’s possible the lost off-season due to the lockout affected him negatively as well. Maybe 2010 was the reality and 2011 was the fluke?

Fantasy Football is a “what have you done for me lately?” business and Timmons will either be a phenomenal value in 2012 or continue to be an enigma. I would be too nervous trusting him as my LB1 in Dynasty start ups. In a 12 team league, I consider him a low-end LB2 and would honestly be more comfortable having him as my LB3 with upside. In a perfect world, I would group him with a top seven linebacker and an aging London Fletcher/Ray Lewis type to protect myself, just in case the 2010 season was the fluke.

All I can ask is will the real Lawrence Timmons please stand up?

http://network.yardbarker.com/author...sport_name=nfl
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Old 06-22-2012, 01:24 AM   #6
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Default Re: Lawrence Timmons the X-factor in takeaways

Quote:
Originally Posted by RushHard34 View Post
He skewed those age numbers to write this article....McClendon could easily replace Hampton on that list, Heyward is right behind Keisel and I am sure will see more playing time this year, and we have a set of very young talented corners. You also never know if Sylvester is ready to step up or not.

Not worried.
A 29-30 year old avg. defense is nothing to worry about. If the guys were younger they would be complaining about not having enough "experience" on defense. Plus, other then at safety, we have young back ups ready to fill the roles. Worilds filled in very well for Harrison, Heyward can play for Keisel, and we have McClendon and a rookie at NT also, one of who may be starting week 1. The age thing is dead and tired, it hasn't been a problem and we got younger this year. Evidently analysts don't have any real weaknesses to point at when breaking down the Steelers now that we have a good OC and O line. Unless our #2 CB or Foote chokes (I doubt both), we don't really have any real weaknesses.

As far as Timmons goes, I do believe this is a big year for him. 2010 was a good season for him, so good that I considered him our next great ILB. I was pretty happy when he got the 5 year deal, but last year he was pretty bland. He wasn't bad by any means, and he was playing in unusual conditions much of the season, he just didn't make any big plays. Then again nobody did. Regardless of years past, this year I'd like to see Timmons step up and play to the best of his ability and show that he is the next James Farrior. Timmons' coverage ability is pretty good, if things get back to normal this year I can see him having a breakout season and getting a few INT's.
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Old 06-22-2012, 02:15 AM   #7
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Default Re: Lawrence Timmons the X-factor in takeaways

The writer of the above article is obviously not a Steelers fan. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but his ignorance of the fact that Jason Worilds and James Harrison were injured at the same time and this being the cause of Timmons being forced to play outside makes it pretty obvious.
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Old 06-22-2012, 08:17 AM   #8
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Default Re: Lawrence Timmons the X-factor in takeaways

Now THIS YEAR...........should be Timmons breakout year. Its different than the past 3 seasons that have predicted it. Its finally going to happen.

OK, maybe next year.
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Old 06-25-2012, 02:19 PM   #9
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Default Re: Lawrence Timmons the X-factor in takeaways

Lawrence Timmons Drop-off Last Season Merely An Aberration Due To Circumstances

Monday, June 25th, 2012 by Dave Bryan

The post on Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons by Jeremy Hritz from earlier this morning warrants an even deeper look at the drop-off the former first round draft pick had last season. Timmons finished tied for 50th in the league in 2011 with 93 combined tackles after finishing 8th in 2010 with 135.

The obvious reason that his tackle numbers dropped off last year was because of the injury to outside linebacker James Harrison, as Hritz noted in his post. When Harrison went down it forced Timmons into his spot at outside linebacker, where he obviously was not a fit and very uncomfortable. In his second start outside against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the former Florida State product did not even register a tackle or an assist. Over the four game span that he played outside he totaled just 12 combined tackles and 1 defensed pass.

In defense of Timmons, playing outside was not something he had much time to prepare to do. You have to remember that the lockout interrupted development for all players during the off-season and heading into the regular season Jason Worilds was slated to back up Harrison. Worilds was inactive for those four games that Timmons had to play outside in after injuring a quad against the Houston Texans, so basically Timmons was thrust into a spot he hadn't taken a regular season snap at since 2008.

When Timmons returned to his normal position inside against the Baltimore Ravens in week 9, he was playing beside Larry Foote as James Farrior missed that game with an injury. Timmons recorded 4 tackles in that game of which all four were regarded as stops. He also only played 64 of the 81 snaps in that game in addition as he was the linebacker to come off the field when the defense went into their dime and big nickel sub-packages.

From that game forward Timmons recorded 47 total tackles over the course of the next 6 regular season games, an average of nearly 8 a game. Keep in mind that he played roughly another 30 snaps outside combined in the games against the Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals and the San Francisco 49ers as well.

In total I have Timmons down for nearly 300 snaps played at outside linebacker of his 990 regular season snaps played on defense. That equates to him being just 30 snaps short of playing a third of his defensive snaps out of position. When you look at his drop-off in total tackles from 2010 to 2011, it is roughly about a third of a drop.

Some will continue to argue that Timmons bulking up some affected his game, but I just did not see that. Others will point to him having a huge amount of missed tackles as well, but in fact that number was under 10 by my count. Sure his pressure on the quarterback both outside and inside, when asked to blitz, was non existent, but the Steelers defense as a whole did a poor job pressure wise in 2011. I think we can all agree on that. The loss of both Harrison and LaMarr Woodley at different times really had an impact.

Hopefully in 2012 Timmons will be able to play all 16 regular season games at his normal spot inside and that should allow him to return to his 2010 form, which will hopefully include a handful more of sacks in addition. The only thing that I think Timmons was guilty of last season was not being a good outside linebacker, but that is why he plays inside. He is a playmaker that is best suited being covered up inside that relies on the defensive line doing their job so that he can eat.

In summation, I think that the 2011 season of Timmons was an aberration of sorts and it had to be very frustrating for him to go through. There is no reason to think that Timmons will not be back in the top 10 in tackles in the league in 2012, assuming he stays healthy and plays at his normal spot inside.

http://network.yardbarker.com/nfl/ar...ances/11083319
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Old 09-03-2012, 01:40 AM   #10
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Default Re: Lawrence Timmons the X-factor in takeaways

Time for Steelers Timmons to Shine?

Sep 2nd, 2012 by kariSteelers



A linebacker dressed in black and gold has a way of striking fear into the hearts of many. Lloyd, Lambert, Ham. They have long been the heart of our Defense. But as we march into the season, at first glance it may look like the tenacity is lacking here, the holes gaping, injuries a-plenty and the player production not up to the standard. But I think that we will survive.

Let’s take a look at the projected starting four:

Woodley. Solid pass rushing monster. That’s what I have to say about him. Next.

Harrison. He’s one big question mark. Coming off the PUP list 9 days before the season opener, what he can do and will do is really up in the air. Sure he’s phenomenal and well, a bad ass man for sure. We all know that. But how productive can any player be having not practiced, let alone played, in months. He will have all of four practices to get himself up to game speed. Is he going to be tentative on that knee? He’s been quoted as saying he’s “hoping” to play against Denver, call me crazy but I want the most hated man in football to have a little more POW in his statements about coming on the field to wreak some havoc. Makes me cringe a bit, but then again even Batman got his ass kicked his first fight back.

Foote. Larry Foote. Hmm. He’s a wild card here. Drafted in 02, he had some good years, mostly ones that had a zero near the end, like 05, 06. Right now I think he’s more of a “provides depth” player and not necessarily a starter or the proper heir to the Farrior throne…but I have to hope I’m wrong and he can be every bit as good as Farrior, at least in the short term, as a leader on the field, and more importantly as a playmaker on the Defensive side of the ball. Are we going to be praying for Sylvester to heal up faster?

Timmons. He had a tough assignment last year, being placed on the outside to cover for the wounded on several occasions. But now that he is back to his preferred place, he is going to be key and I think he’s ready to step up and be that count on guy. He’s arguably the most athletic player under LeBeau, (I will argue that point so that makes it true) and has good speed and can shed blockers. He could be given the opportunity early to call the defensive signals and be responsible for making sure others are lined up correctly, a job that was once Farrior’s but may not be best invested in Foote. Another opportunity for him to grow responsibility on the field and increase his worth. With offenses looking for Woodley and let’s hope an effective Harrison on the outside, this gives a green light for Timmons to make some plays.

Big plays.

http://nicepickcowher.com/2012/09/02...mons-to-shine/
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