Steelers' linebackers heading in opposite directions
LaMarr Woodley set his alarm clock for 6 a.m. so he could be the first to announce his newly signed $61.5 million contract via social media.
“That was the whole thing — breaking the story first,” Woodley said on Aug. 3, 2011.
Three weeks later, Lawrence Timmons signed a $50 million deal and told absolutely nobody because “they said they wanted to keep it on the down low.”
Not only was it a glimpse into the personalities of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's first two draft picks, it was an indication of how different the paths their careers would take.
Since signing their deals 18 days apart, Timmons has played in 99 percent of the Steelers' snaps, including 1,688 consecutive, while Woodley has missed 14 games and parts of six others while taking part in only 56 percent of the plays.
“He's had to battle some injuries, unfortunately for him and for us,” Tomlin said after Woodley was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury in December.
Fair or not, Timmons and Woodley always will be compared because they were the Steelers' top two picks in 2007 at the same position. So far, Timmons is winning.
Since their nearly simultaneous contract extensions, Timmons' play has justified his lucrative payday, and Woodley's hasn't.
Timmons accumulated 325 tackles, 11 sacks, 42 quarterback pressures while missing 34 snaps in three seasons with Woodley, who had 35 sacks his first three years, collecting 113 tackles, 18 sacks, 40 pressures while missing a possible 1,000 snaps.
Three years of nagging injuries that's led to a lack of production, along with a hefty price tag left on his contract, could make the 29-year old Woodley a salary cap casualty in March. The Steelers could save $25 million in salary over the final three years if they release Woodley.
“If it comes down to giving the money to Woodley or (Jason) Worilds, I'd give it to Worilds,” said Matt Williamson, an NFL scout for ESPN.com and former Cleveland Browns college and pro scout.
The polarizing Woodley has accomplished more off the field recently. He has been featured on MTV's Guy Code and Hip-Hop Squares and had his likeness made into a cartoon alongside Peyton Manning in an episode of South Park.
“He is easy to dislike and people think he is overweight and he is hurt all of the time,” Williamson said. “But what I thought when he was out there this year, he was much better than he was a year ago and especially as a pass rusher.”
With Woodley's future uncertain, Timmons has become the heartbeat of the Steelers' defense. Timmons led the team with 126 tackles despite a role change early in the season; he also had to call the defensive plays when Larry Foote was lost for the year.
“I think I did OK,” Timmons said. “I need to make more splash plays. I don't think I made enough splash plays as I did last year. It was an OK year for me.”
Timmons also had two interceptions, three sacks, a forced fumble and a career-high 20-tackle game against the Ravens in which he played the final quarter with a broken hand unbeknownst to his teammates.
“I asked him why he didn't say anything during the game and he said he didn't want to come out of the game and for his teammates to be mad at him,” cornerback Ike Taylor said. “He's an old-school caveman.”
Timmons ranked fourth in stops in the league — the cumulative number of tackles that result in an offensive failure, tracked by ProFootballFocus — to go along with being one of the better cover linebackers in the NFL.
“I think he is underrated nationally,” Williamson said.
Timmons hasn't made a Pro Bowl despite being one of the top second-level or hybrid linebackers in the NFL.
“I think you could put Lawrence Timmons in anybody's lineup, and he's going to stand out and play good football,” defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. “In my honest opinion, maybe it's somewhat biased, I think he's played at an All-Pro level for several years. I don't know what more you want the guy to do.”
Show commenting policy
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.
- Founder of Z&M Cycle Sales in Hempfield killed in Florida motorcycle crash
- Starkey: Tomlin lived in his fears
- Slain St. Clair officer walked into ‘worst nightmare’ for police
- Increasing player salaries pinch financial flexibility of Pirates
- 7 percent in Allegheny County able to carry concealed gun
- 2,200 union employees of ATI lose coverage
- Film session: Long shots dotted Steelers’ passing game
- Steelers receiver Wheaton takes advantage of opportunity in breakout game
- Penguins’ reshuffled top line of Crosby, Dupuis, Kunitz looks familiar
- Pa. Supreme Court: Highmark Medicare Advantage members to retain access to UPMC
- Mt. Lebanon puts temporary halt on deer kill