Tag:Lawrence Timmons
Posted on: August 25, 2011 5:02 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 9:02 pm

Cowher: 'Troy is going to finish a Steeler'

Posted by Ryan Wilson

To paraphrase Mitch Williams, Troy Polamalu plays like his hair is on fire. But launching yourself around the field like an RPG isn't a consequence-free existence. It may strike fear in the hearts of offensive coordinators and quarterbacks, but it's virtually guaranteed to shorten your career, too. But Polamalu isn't changing; he's said more than once that's the only way he knows how to play. And it's the combination of great ball skills, even better instincts, and a rare ability to explode through the line of scrimmage that makes him not just the Steelers' best defender, but arguably their best player. 

Playing just in front of Polamalu is inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons. On a team full of superstars, Timmons sometimes gets lost in the mix. His NFL career got off to an unremarkable start partly because he was just 20 years old when he came into the league in 2007, but also because he was playing behind some of the best football players on Earth. But after a two-year apprenticeship, Timmons assumed his role as the next great Steelers linebacker in 2009, joining James Farrior, James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley in the starting lineup.

On Tuesday, Pittsburgh signed Timmons, 25, to a contract extension worth $50 million over six years. This comes two weeks after the Steelers inked Woodley to a six-year, $61.5 million deal. Both Timmons and Woodley are in their mid-20s, and in their own right, franchise players. But the Steelers defense if full of franchise guys.

More Steelers News

Which brings us to Polamalu, the 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and one of the best safeties ever. He's in the last year of a four-year, $30 million contract he signed prior to the 2007 season. Given his importance to this team, how can Pittsburgh lock up Timmons before Polamalu? We put that question to former Steelers coach Bill Cowher, who now works as an NFL analyst for CBS. Specifically, did the organization factored youth and health into their decision to sign Lawrence over Troy?

"That's absolutely got to be their thinking," Cowher told CBSSports.com. "At the same time, Troy -- he's going to finish a Pittsburgh Steeler. You can only have so much to spend in one year's time. You certainly have to (pay) the younger player, and in this situation it's going to be the guy most gettable at this point. So I think what they did was good. 

"They had two great players (in Timmons and Polamalu), Troy's a proven player year in and year out, he's at another level. Lawrence is an up and coming player, an integral part to that (defense). But I think Troy is going to get taken care of at the appropriate time. He will retire a Pittsburgh Steeler, there's no doubt about that. I'm sure Troy understands that, he had his second contract there too in Pittsburgh. He understands the process."

Since 2006, Polamalu, 30, has started 16 games just once (2008). He missed 11 games in 2009 with a knee injury, and last season, he had 14 regular-season starts, but struggled with an Achilles injury that limited his effectiveness in the postseason.

The decision to sign Polamalu is something we've been thinking about for a while. And even though we're huge Polamalu fans, the organization did the right thing by taking care of Timmons first. Here's what we wrote on the matter several weeks ago: 

We’d extend on Timmons first, let Troy play the year on his current deal, see if his body can hold up over 16 games plus the playoffs (history suggests it won’t happen), and revisit things next offseason. 

It sounds cold and calculating and, in general, it makes us uncomfortable to treat Polamalu like a widget in some vast corporate operation when in reality he's one of the team’s most valuable players. We’ve seen what a Polamalu-less defense looks like and we're still haunted by visions of David Garrard outrunning Tyrone Carter during that 2007 wild card game. 

The Steelers give inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons a six-year, $50 million extension, which means that Troy Polamalu has to wait … for now, anyway. (Getty Images)  

But here’s the thing: Timmons may not be as important as Polamalu to the defense 
right now, but he’s still one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL -- and he will get better. What you see is what you get with Troy. And when he’s healthy, it’s amazing to watch. The problem, obviously, is that he struggles to stay on the field. This is what happens when you’re 30 and have played safety like a kamikaze for seven seasons. 

It’s also why it makes more sense to lock Timmons up first, preferably before he has an insane 2011 season and his asking price goes through the roof.

Apparently, the Steelers felt similarly. And even though Polamalu has just a year left on his current contract, the organization won't let him get away next offseason, even if -- god forbid -- he's injured for parts of 2011. Worst case: Pittsburgh can franchise Troy in 2012 (and they can do it again in 2013 if they want). It's not ideal, but making the average salary of the top five players at your position isn't a bad consolation prize. 

Either way, it doesn't sound like Polamalu is going anywhere. He spoke briefly about his contract situation during training camp but only to echo Cowher's sentiments. "I'd love to be here; I'd love to retire a Steeler," Polamalu said from Latrobe. "All comments regarding the contract stay between the Steelers and my agent. Sorry." 

And unlike some players who vehemently oppose the specter of the franchise tag, Polamalu was straightforward about the possibility. "To be honest, it is part of the (collective bargaining agreement) that all of us agreed on," he said. "It's part of the system." 

Troy sounds like a man content with his fate, perhaps, because he shares Cowher's belief that he'll finish his career in Pittsburgh. 

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Posted on: August 23, 2011 9:40 am

Lawrence Timmons deal a perfect Steelers signing

Posted by Will Brinson

The first first-rounder that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin ever drafted -- Lawrence Timmons -- is going to end up staying with the team for a long time, as the team announced the linebacker signed a six-year, $50 million extension on Tuesday morning.

That's a hefty contract, but it's also a deal that has the Steelers fingerprints all over it, in three specific ways.

One, Timmons is a stud, but he's not a "known stud," if that makes sense.

Lacking the household-name cache of a James Harrison or the awards and public recognition of other members of the defense, Timmons comes at a pretty solid value for under $10 million a year through his prime. It's pretty standard practice for the Steelers

It's also standard practice for the Steelers to sign "their guys." As we detailed before last year's Super Bowl, the Steelers aren't exactly fond of constructing a roster made of expensive free agents. They draft well and develop those players even better -- Timmons and LaMarr Woodley (their second-round pick in 2007) both signed big deals this offseason and are now locked in for the foreseeable future at linebacker.

Additionally, the Steelers signed Timmons in for the remainder of his prime -- he was set to become a free agent right around the time he turned 26. Now Pittsburgh has the rights to Timmons and Woodley until they turn 32.

If this sounds familiar, it should. Both James Harrison and James Farrior signed deals that brought them to their early 30s. The Steelers then signed those two linebackers to an additional deal, taking them to the likely end of their respective careers.

Timmons will get one more good contract when he hits his 30s. Depending on how he's producing at that point, it might come from the Steelers.

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Posted on: August 10, 2011 4:25 pm

Hot Routes 8.10.11: Ron Rivera says he owes fans

Posted by Ryan Wilson
  • It's with a heavy heart that Steelers Lounge suggests the team should extend linebacker Lawrence Timmons' contract now and wait until after the 2011 season to revisit safety Troy Polamalu.
  • Colts blog 18to88.com busts out the abacus to support the notion that Randy Moss was, in fact, The Quarterback Maker. (And no, this doesn't mean that Moss might be headed to Indy. We think.)
  • PFT's Michael David Smith, Lions fan and friend of the Eye-on-Sports blog, must be having flashbacks: Detroit is bringing in Matt Millen's son-in-law for a workout.
  • Related: just in case it wasn't obvious, new Panthers head coach Ron Rivera has a message for you, Carolina supporters: “Our fans, we owe them after being 2-14 last season which was not acceptable.”
  • More evidence that the NFL and Arena League are completely different games (in case you couldn't make that out by the shorter field, padded sidelines, and funny-looking football): video of an Arena League fan keeping a player from returning a kick and then getting high-fives from the other team. James Harrison body slams these people.
  • Shutdown Corner's Chris Chase pretty much captures the essence of this story with the very first sentence of his post: "Dallas Cowboys rookie Phillip Tanner is trying to make the leap from the concession stand to the locker room."
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Posted on: August 5, 2011 8:50 am
Edited on: August 5, 2011 8:55 am

LaMarr Woodley signs 6-year, $61.5 million deal

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The Steelers franchised linebacker LaMarr Woodely prior to the lockout. Friday morning he tweeted this: "Wanted u 2 hear it here 1st- drafted here... super bowl here.. will retire here!! time 2 get u #7!! @STEELERS 4 LIFE!!"

Translation: the Steelers signed Woodley to a six-year, $61.5 million deal. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the contract "includes a $22.5 million bonus and will significantly reduce his previous salary cap number. He was to be on the books for about $10 million in 2010 because of the franchise tag the Steelers applied to him. His new salary cap number could be about half of that."

And a source tells PFT that Woodley will make $18.1 million in 2011, and $27 million over two years making him the second highest-paid player in team history behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. (By comparison, James Harrison signed a six-year, $51.7 million contract in 2009.)

Since the lockout ended, Pittsburgh hasn't been as aggressive in free agency as their cross-state counterparts, Philadelphia, but they have been busy rejiggering their roster. They cut Max Starks, Antwaan Randle El and Flozell Adams, and re-signed cornerback Ike Taylor and now Woodley, two key cogs in the league's best defense a year ago.

A former 2007 second-round pick out of Michigan, Woodley has 39 sacks in his NFL career, including 10 in 2010. The Steelers first-round selection in 2007, inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons, is now on the short list of players next in line for a new deal.

One final thought on the Woodley news: Joe Flacco must be psyched.

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Posted on: July 14, 2011 3:21 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 4:08 pm

Timmons gives insight into Harrison's words

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

With the James Harrison comments in Men’s Journal continuing to reverberate around the Internet, so far today we’ve heard from the man who interviewed him and former teammate Jerome Bettis.

The former defended him and basically said Harrison could trample all over him if it made others feel better about Harrison’s comments, and the latter simply said he was disappointed.

So, why not ask a current teammate about Harrison and what he’s like? That’s what TSN Radio in Toronto did today when the station talked to Steelers LB Lawrence Timmons. Here’s part of the transcript, via sportsradiointerviews.com.

On what Harrison is like as a person and a teammate:

“James Harrison is a big part of my growth. I had a tough rookie year, and during the summer I worked out with him the whole time. And he basically just taught me how to work and how to be an athlete in this business. He was just substantial to my career and I look up to the guy and admire him. I have just nothing but the best things to say about him.”

If he thinks that Harrison might have been baited into his comments or if something perhaps prompted him to say what he did:

“Yeah, I’m sure it was something. But James is a guy that’s misunderstood. A lot of people think he’s a bad person, but he just sometimes says some things that he shouldn’t. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t feel this way, he probably just got kind of mixed up with his words. But he’s a great guy.”

If Harrison is actually the tough, scary guy that his image projects:

“No he’s not. He’s a great father, he does a lot in our community, he’s a Pittsburgh Steeler, we accept him, and I have nothing but the best things to say about him.”

Hell, maybe Timmons is right: maybe Harrison IS misunderstood and that he DOES mix up his words. If that’s the case, maybe he should just stop talking about other people. You know, because he’s misunderstood. And he mixes up his words.

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Posted on: March 20, 2011 2:59 pm
Edited on: March 20, 2011 3:32 pm

Offseason Checkup: Pittsburgh Steelers

Posted by Andy Benoit


Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups. Also, check out our checkup podcast:

If you’d told the Steelers at some point during last fall that Ben Roethlisberger would get the ball with 2:07 remaining down six in Super Bowl XLV, they probably would have taken it. That final drive was about the only thing that did not go Roethlisberger’s way in 2010 (suspension aside, of course).

The Steelers, despite a depleted offensive line, got within arms’ reach of a Lombardi Trophy thanks to the emergence of young playmakers Rashard Mendenhall, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown.

And, of course, thanks to their perennially staunch defense. Troy Polamalu took home Defensive Player of the Year honors (no matter what the humble safety says, the award was well-deserved) while the star-studded linebacking corps welcomed a new sensation: inside ‘backer Lawrence Timmons.

NFL Offseason

Don’t be shocked if Emmanuel Sanders supplants Hines Ward in the starting lineup sooner than later. This is more about Sanders than Ward. The second-year wideout is already Ben Roethlisberger’s go-to target in spread formations (granted, in part because Roethlisberger prefers to work the slot from four-and five-wide sets). Sanders has the quickness and tempo change to beat man coverage, and he showed marked improvements in understanding the offense as his rookie season wore on.

These days, Ward, 35, runs like he’s playing in sand. But he can still produce. His 59 catches for 755 yards last season were a drop below the back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons he had coming into the year, but his famous (notorious?) blocking remains sharp.

1. Offensive Tackle 1
After watching him lumber through last season, it seems like RT Flozell Adams is nearing that age where Tuesday afternoons and Saturday nights start feeling the same and relatives start dropping subtle hints about the dangers of driving after dark. No way the Steelers pay Adams the $5 million he’s due in 2011. The Steelers can go for the best OT available overall given that LT Max Starks is coming back from injury and could move over to the more-fitting right side.

2. Right Guard
Ramon Foster is not the answer. A simple review of last year’s front line personnel changes reveals that coaches will do just about anything to keep the undrafted utility man out of the starting lineup. Backup G/C Doug Legursky has better mobility than people think, but it’s not enough to make up for his lack of phone booth power.

3. Defensive End
Aaron Smith turns 35 in April and has missed all but 11 games over the past two years. Ziggy Hood was supposed to be primed to start by now, but the ’09 first-round pick does not have the power to be a true anchor outside. Hood must develop the type of agility that’s made Brett Keisel a force; it’s a tossup whether he will. Keisel will be 33 in September but shows no sign of decline. However, the Steelers like to draft players two years out, so finding at least one understudy still makes sense.

A run at a record seventh Lombardi Trophy is clearly not out of the question, though the Steelers won just 17 games combined in the seasons following their last two Super Bowl appearances. The defense is aging but not aged. The offense should only be better.

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Posted on: February 5, 2011 1:54 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2011 2:00 pm

Josh Freeman makes a great point about Steelers

Posted by Andy Benoit

DALLAS -- Had a chance to chat with Josh Freeman on Friday (he was making the media rounds as part of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute lab that is stationed upstairs from radio row). The conversation centered largely around the lessons he’s learned in his first two years in the NFL. Freeman said that facing more frequent and complex A-gap blitzes was the toughest on-field tactic that he had to learn.

The Steelers just so happen to be one of, if not THE, best fire-X blitzing team in football (fire X is an A-gap blitz in which the inside linebackers crisscross on their way to the quarterback). Freeman offered one of the shrewdest yet simplest observations that has been made this week in Dallas: the Steelers front seven is extra difficult to figure out because the linebackers mix their 90s and 50s jersey numbers.

Normally, defensive linemen are the ones who wear numbers in the 90s. But Steelers outside linebacker James Harrisons is No. 92. And inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons is No. 94. (The other starters, James Farrior and LaMarr Woodley, are 51 and 56.)

Obviously, it’s easy to tell the difference between all four Steelers linebackers. But when you’re on the field and have a million things going on, it’s a little harder. If your first point of reference is normally a jersey number, and linebackers wearing numbers in the 90s are roving around, those linebackers are going to blend in for a split second. Split seconds are a significant chunk of time in football.

If a media type or outside observer had made this point about jersey numbers, it probably wouldn’t be worth a second thought. Jersey numbers? Really? But when a quarterback who has faced the Steelers brings it up on his own, there’s something to it.

[More Super Bowl coverage]

CBSSports.com's Jason Horowitz also caught up with Freeman:

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Posted on: February 2, 2011 4:09 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2011 3:18 pm

Matchup breakdown: Packers O vs. Steelers D

Posted by Andy Benoit

The Packers’ ground game doesn’t have a prayer against a Steeler run defense that ranks third all-time in the modern era. Center Scott Wells is a cagey veteran, but he struggled all season to hold ground against vociferous nose tackles. There may not be a more punishing run-stopping nose in the game than Casey Hampton. Even if the Packers can somehow neutralize that interior mismatch (and it’s doubtful they can), James StarkD. Driver (US Presswire)s, decent as he’s been this postseason, lacks the speed and agility to elude Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark and Pittsburgh’s superb linebacking corps.

Green Bay’s best chance on Sunday will be to isolate their wideouts against the Steelers defensive backs. Don’t be surprised if the Packers spend most of the game in four wide receiver sets. That would force Dick LeBeau to play nickel or dime and keep either his leader (James Farrior) or most athletic player (Lawrence Timmons) off the field. It would also isolate at least one of Green Bay’s wideouts on one of Pittsburgh’s cornerbacks.

For Green Bay, the most attractive mismatch in the passing game will be inside. Steelers nickelback William Gay, who occasionally struggles in man coverage, will have his hands full against either James Jones or Jordy Nelson.

Also, expect the Packers to keep Greg Jennings on the right side of the formation, where he’s more likely to face Bryant McFadden. McFadden, like his counterpart Ike Taylor, is stout enough as a tackler to keep the catch-and-run happy Packer receivers from breaking a big one. But unlike Taylor, McFadden does not have great length or catch-up speed over the top. Jennings, one the crispest and most befuddling downfield route runners in the game, can exploit this.

Most importantly, spreading the field will create natural throwing alleys for Rodgers. This is critical because, with Chad Clifton going against James Harrison and Bryan Bulaga going against LaMarr Woodley, shaky pass protection will limit Rodgers to mostly three-step drops.

It will be fascinating to see whether LeBeau allows Rodgers to complete passes off three-step drops or whether he tries to counter the quick pass. Countering it likely means taking a reactionary defensive approach – something that is generally unfamiliar for LeBeau’s unit. Normally the Steelers love to blitz their inside linebackers (often this is what creates one-on-one scenarios for their potent outside linebackers). But to counter Rodgers’ quick strikes, the Steelers may drop eight into coverage and rush only three. Harrison and Woodley are both adept in space. If the linebackers are dropping back, Pittsburgh’s corners get to play zone instead of man. That helps appease the mismatch against Green Bay’s wideouts.

The X-factor, as usual, is Troy Polamalu. How LeBeau decides to utilize his most dynamic playmaker will determine whether the Steelers blitz or drop back. If Polamalu roves around the box, expect blitz. If he roves around centerfield, expect drop back.

Speaking of Polamalu, here's what LeBeau had to say about the legendary safety.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com