Pittsburgh Steelers Benefitting from the Emergence of Lawrence Timmons

Bill KostkasContributor IISeptember 25, 2010

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 29:  Lawrence Timmons #94 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks off the field after warmups before the game against the  Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 29, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Steelers 20-17. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Larry French/Getty Images

Remember when all of us were teased with the play of Kendrell Bell's Defensive Rookie of the Year campaign in 2001? We all thought the Steelers had found the next Greg Lloyd with that second round selection out of Georgia.

As it turns out, injuries severely diminished his career and he was let go by the Steelers at the end of the 2004 season.

This entire decade we've had a plethora of middle linebackers fill the spot once owned by Lloyd. Earl Holmes held it down before leaving for the Cleveland Browns after the 2001 season, which lead the Steelers to bring in James Farrior from the New York Jets. Bell's injuries even allowed for Larry Foote to get playing time.

It took a year for Farrior to get the 3-4 scheme down, but he has been a tackling machine since, having led the Steelers in the category five of the last six years. We also can't forget how solid Larry Foote was when he got the starting job.

All that aside, I think we are starting to see another budding star in Lawrence Timmons. Yes, the very same guy that everyone wanted the Steelers to dump in his first ever NFL training camp. What many Steelers fans don't realize is that it sometimes takes a few seasons for younger players to grasp Dick Lebeau's 3-4 scheme. Not everyone can come right into the scene like LaMarr Woodley did and look impressive.

It obviously did for Timmons. After being Mike Tomlin's first draft pick as a head coach, he came on very slow in 2007, not getting much playing time at all. Then had a more expanded role in the Steelers third down packages in 2008. That year he even filled in when guys went down, like when Woodley had a gimpy ankle against Indianapolis.

We expected a breakout year in 2009, bu injuries limited him. So far this year Timmons has been the most noticeable defender on the field other than Troy Polamalu. Last week against Tennessee, he was in on the Chris Johnson fumble and was there to make the last tackle to end the game. He was pretty much assigned to Johnson the entire game.

If he is able to take care of the most electrifying back in football right now, the sky is the limit for Timmons.

He currently leads the team in tackles with 26, and don't be surprised if it stays that way for the next few seasons.