Lawrence Timmons may be entering his 10th season in the league, and will soon be turning 30, but he will be the first to admit that he doesn’t know everything that there is to know about his position, the defense, or the game of football. In spite of his extensive playing experience, which has earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2014 and other seasons that were equally deserving in spite of their lack of recognition, the former first-round draft pick is continually striving to better himself on the field.
At such a late point in his career—even if he still might have quite a bit of meat left on the bone—in fact, continuing to learn and adapt and adjust might be as important as it ever has in his career, given the defensive tweaks and changes that have taken place and will continue to take place as the Steelers shift away from Dick LeBeau’s defense and are shaped more by Mike Tomlin and Keith Butler.
You will recall that the Steelers began to roll in more usage of traditional Cover 2 concepts, particularly in obvious passing situations last season, which puts a different sort of burden on the inside linebackers in terms of their coverage responsibilities and the depth of their drop.
In addition to that, one should not forget that he has, over the course of the past two seasons, had a bit of a tumultuous and shaky tenure with his surrounding players, as the drafting of Ryan Shazier in 2014 prompted Timmons to shift from the mack linebacker spot to the buck position, which is something that he was never intended to play.
Included in that role, at least initially, was the inheritance of the play-calling responsibilities from Larry Foote, which was an area in which he was inexperienced, at least in terms of making the calls in-game and setting up the defense. It was a role that has now been passed along to Shazier.
With these reminders, it is easy to see why Timmons might be motivated to be eternally honing his skills, aside from the fact that with aging comes a decline in skills. And he recently spoke to the team’s website about how hard at work he is this offseason, telling Teresa Varley that he thinks about the tackles that he missed more than any tackle that he made. “I can always grow and that is something I am working on this offseason”, he said.
Citing strength and speed as target areas he is working on, Timmons told Varley that he is “trying to be smart”, that he is “doing certain things with my feet to help me with coverage”. The world of a Cover 2 linebacker is still a bit new to Timmons and something that he is adapting to.
“I am a guy who likes to be out in the center of the field, making plays. I like to roam”, he said, adding, “I like to be out there in space to make plays for our defense”. And in spite of the fact that he has been there as long as anybody on the defensive side of the ball short of James Harrison, even in his 10th offseason, he is still striving to better himself in his role on defense.