Share This Page

Timmons feels ready to show his best

Lawrence Timmons is bigger and faster.

The former No. 1 draft choice is a heck of a lot stronger and has been healthy, too, something he wasn't last year.

The only question that remains is if Timmons is going to be better.

He thinks he is going to be much better - try accumulating somewhere around 17 or 18 sacks, or a third more than he has collected over his three-year career, better.

"I definitely want to be the guy who can get the sacks," Timmons said. "I always loved the sacks. I had seven last year, but I feel that I could've had way more."

Nobody is dismissing Timmons' claim. Even though he has had three quite uneventful NFL seasons, the talent is there to be a superstar.

"He's playing a lot faster. He has the ability and potential," fellow inside linebacker Larry Foote said. "I see him coming into his own. It is just a matter of time. I don't think we've seen the best of him yet."

Neither has his linebacker coach Keith Butler.

"I'd be surprised if he didn't have a good year," Butler said. "He's one of the most explosive hitters on defense."

Timmons prepared for a breakout year in the offseason like a star in waiting.

He was a self-proclaimed workout warrior, putting on more than five pounds of muscle to get to 248 pounds - the heaviest of his career -- so he could be stronger at the point of attack.

"I am growing up now and definitely know what to expect and how to play the game," Timmons said. "I need to do it at a higher level than I have done in the past three years."

And he needs to stay healthy - something he didn't do last year.

Timmons suffered a left high ankle sprain in the preseason then injured the right ankle in the middle of the season.

Timmons' season quickly became a bust.

Now, Timmons did have career highs in tackles (86) and sacks (7), but he never became the difference maker on a defense that needed one.

"Watching Timmons last year, he started to put it all together before the injuries slowed him down," outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley said.

Timmons missed two full games with his ankle injuries and part of another, but he never was truly healthy the entire year.

"I just hate the fact that I had those injuries that set me back," Timmons said. "Stuff like that happens. Toward the end of the year, for sure, I was getting back to my old self."

Timmons showed flashes of what he is capable of doing when he sacked Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco twice during a late November game and two weeks later in Cleveland when he collected a career-high 13 tackles.

But Timmons has yet to put it all together all at once.

"This is going to be his breakout year, trust me" Farrior said. "He could be one of the best in the league as soon as he gets it all together. Once the game starts slowing down for him and he understands and stays healthy, the sky is the limit. He is just a freak of nature."

Timmons is a natural outside linebacker but is so versatile that he was almost instantly moved to inside. He can play three linebacker positions and possibly even the buck inside spot if needed in a pinch.

"You can probably put him back there at the safety position as well," Woodley said.

With guys like Woodley and James Harrison holding down the outside linebacker slots, Timmons' spot has been on the inside.

"Is he as effective as Woodley and Harrison• I don't think so," Butler said. "But the guy deserves to be on the field because he's got as much talent as anyone."

The Steelers keep him on the field as much as any other linebacker, too. He plays all three downs including in the nickel package that could open up more sack opportunities for him.

But for as many as 17 or 18?

"We'll have to make it happen," Timmons said. "Being able to stop the big run plays and get into the backfield. I just like to swoop in and make plays in the backfield. But in the end, I want to have a better year than I had last year."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.