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Steelers' Timmons biding his time

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Saturday, Dec. 29, 2007

Lawrence Timmons has two tackles and a fumble recovery as a Steelers rookie linebacker. The second linebacker selected in the 2007 NFL draft, Timmons' biggest impact has been on special teams where he's tied for second on the team with 12 tackles and has another fumble recovery.

Known as a playmaker coming out of Florida State, Timmons hasn't been able to stay on the field long enough to make an impact. A backup on the league's top-rated defense, he mostly watches and waits his turn.

"My time will come," said Timmons, the No. 15 pick in the draft.

Timmons' rookie season nearly ended before it started.

He suffered a groin injury at his first mini-camp shortly after he was drafted. He re-injured his groin during the first week of training camp and has spent the rest of the season catching up.

But even after displaying flashes of the big-play ability that excited the Steelers' brass prior to the draft, Timmons remains on the depth chart behind talented and heady veterans such as James Harrison, Larry Foote and James Farrior.

"I'm just blessed to be in a good situation and having veterans like these," Timmons said. "It's just a great experience to sit behind the guys and see how it's done. It's laid out for me this is what I need to be doing."

Fellow rookie linebackers and first-round picks Patrick Willis (San Francisco) and Jon Beason (Carolina) became starters right away. Timmons knows that similar expectations were projected for him with the Steelers.

"I can understand that," he said. "I feel like I made the best decision. (Being drafted No. 15) was great. I've just got to be patient."

Not fulfilling those expectations hasn't dampened Timmons' confidence. If anything, his lack of opportunities to make big plays has made him more determined.

Timmons plays mostly on special teams. He usually joins the defense on obvious passing downs, dropping into coverage. To this point, his pass-rushing skills haven't been utilized.

"I want to be good at whatever I'm doing. I'm trying to be as special as possible on defense," Timmons said. "But right now, it's special teams."

Timmons said he's still learning the Steelers' complicated defense. He may never absorb all the intricate details that defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's system presents, but he said it won't be from a lack of trying.

"Taking time to learn the playbook and listen to what the coaches tell me -- that'll carry over to when I'm playing," Timmons said. "In two-a-days, you're learning the set defenses. But from week-to-week during the season, you have a different gameplan. You've got to adjust."

Timmons is adjusting to a lot of things, including making the transition from college to the NFL as the Steelers' youngest player as a 21-year-old rookie. He's also learning how to play hurt, which is mandatory in the pros.

Timmons suffered a fractured left hand playing on special teams against St. Louis. He had the cast removed yesterday and then re-fitted so that he can play in Sunday's final regular season game at Baltimore.

"This is a real business here," Timmons said. "In college, it was fun. I'm not saying the pros aren't fun -- just a whole lot more serious. Not saying it wasn't serious in college. Just a whole lot more at stake now."

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