Pittsburgh Steelers fans, you know who might be the best player on the Steelers defense this year? Troy Polamalu? No. James Harrison? No. How about LaMarr Woodley? Getting warmer. It's inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons.
The three guys I mentioned are great, but Timmons looks incredible so far this preseason. He's everywhere on the field. He's in the backfield, he's covering the middle, running sideline to sideline and even covering receivers down field.
Timomons, the first first-rounder of the MIke Tomlin regime, has come a long way since his rookie year. At first, a lot of critics were saying that he was going to be a bust because of his size and work ethic. They were wrong. Timmons is a beast physically, combining speed and strength.
Timmons, who signed a six-year, $50 million extension this preseason, might end up being the best overall player on the Steelers defense for years to come. Some thought the Steelers were crazy for giving him that kind of a contract. Others were shocked that the Steelers signed Timmons and have put off talks with Polamalu.
However, the Steelers once again made the right choice. Polamalu is on the back end of his career. He's a superstar, but he's been very injury prone. Timmons is just entering his prime and the Steelers have him locked up until he's 32. Not to mention that James Farrior is also coming up on the end of his career, so keeping Timmons was a must.
But it's much more than that. If you actually know football and how to watch and analyze it, you know that Timmons could end up being one of the best inside linebackers in the game.
The Steelers also got a good deal on the Timmons contract, compared to other inside linebackers that have cashed in recently. David Harris of the New York Jets was signed to a four-year deal worth $36 million, but $29.5 of it was guaranteed. Timmons is guaranteed just $22.5. Of all of the inside linebackers in the game right now, I can only say that Patrick Willis of the San Francisco 49ers is a better player than Timmons.
From what Timmons has shown in training camp and in preseason this year, I think he might very well be the best player on the defense. That's also saying something because right now, he's the youngest starter on the defense and the only other starter under the age of 30 is LaMarr Woodley, who the Steelers also locked up long term.
In the 34-16 victory over the Falcons, Timmons was a man possessed, and started making big plays. On one play, he torpedoed into the backfield to tackle Michael Turner for a loss. Two plays later, he picked off Matt Ryan and almost scored. On the night he had six tackles, all solo.
I expect Timmons to make his first Pro Bowl this year and become a top-five inside linebacker in the NFL for years to come.
I also don't think Polamalu is going anywhere. The Steelers can put the franchise tag on him next year while they work out a deal. If you think Polamalu isn't going to retire a Steeler, you're a fool.
There's a reason the Steelers have been so successful for so long, year in and year out. They make good decisions, and the Timmons contract was another good one. Jackpot!
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