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Thread: Steelers counting on young linebackers to blossom

          
   
   
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  1. #1
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    Steelers counting on young linebackers to blossom

    The story of LaMarr Woodley having to scrounge for change the first time he drove from Ann Arbor, Mich., to Pittsburgh is a well-documented -- and funny -- one.
    A little more than a year later, the Steelers' outside linebacker is reminded of it whenever he stops at the turnpike booth, where he paid a toll with the quarters he eventually found in his vehicle.
    "Usually, every time it's the same lady that I didn't have enough change for going through," Woodley said with a laugh.
    If it seems to Woodley that he can't get away from that toll collector, he hopes opposing quarterbacks come to feel the same way about him.
    Woodley is ticketed to start at left outside linebacker, and the promise he showed as a situational pass rusher last season played no small part in the Steelers allowing Clark Haggans to leave as a free-agent. Lawrence Timmons, another second-year linebacker, also is slated for a bigger role in 2008 after he was relegated to mostly special-teams duty last season because of injuries and his place behind a Pro Bowler at right outside linebacker.
    The two highly touted 'backers are expected to make a quantum leap this season given their familiarity with the Steelers' system.
    "It's been proven over time that guys have the ability to take a giant leap between year one and year two," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "An understanding of what's required, of what lies ahead, are all factors in doing that. We like where (Timmons and Woodley) are. The athleticism and talents that attracted them to us originally are showing through."
    Timmons, the first draft pick of the Tomlin era, didn't get a chance to show much of anything last season. A groin injury that eventually was diagnosed as a sports hernia cost him significant practice time during the offseason as well as in training camp.
    The 15th overall pick of the 2007 draft played in all 16 regular-season games as a rookie but registered just 13 tackles.
    With James Harrison entrenched at right outside linebacker, the Steelers moved Timmons inside, where he'll compete with incumbent Larry Foote for a starting job.
    Even if the 6-1, 234-pound Timmons does not unseat Foote at right inside linebacker, he still is expected to get significant playing time as a swing linebacker. That is why the versatile Timmons, who turns 22 Wednesday, is also practicing at right outside linebacker.
    "I want to be a flexible guy, and my coaches are helping me out to do that," Timmons said. "I'll be at outside for a second, and then I'll be back inside. It's helping me stay here for the long haul because I'm so flexible. I'm just trying to use that as an advantage."
    Asked whether he prefers playing inside or outside, Timmons said, "Whichever one puts me on the field."
    Woodley got on the field more than Timmons did last season, but the former Michigan star was limited by a nagging hamstring injury as well as the transition he had to make from defensive end to outside linebacker.
    Woodley still had six sacks, including two in the Steelers' loss to Jacksonville in an AFC wild-card game, but the 6-2, 265-pounder said he didn't accomplish the goals he had set for himself prior to the season.
    "Even as a young guy, you always want to play a lot, and when you don't play a lot, you're kind of disappointed in yourself," said Woodley, a second-round pick in the 2007 draft.
    Woodley will play plenty this season, and he intends to shed about five pounds to prepare for his increased role.
    Playing a little lighter, he said, will help him when he drops into coverage to track running backs, tight ends and even wide receivers from time to time.
    "You come in as a rookie, and you kind of get thrown into the fire," Woodley said. "I feel like I'm prepared now."
    we sure know how to pick them.....
    I never knew that Timmons had a Hernia. Hopefully he can prove this year that he's worth being a 1st round pick and not a complete bust.
    "It is hard to wait around for something that you know may never happen;but it's even harder to let go when it's everything you want"
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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    I really like the makeup of this group of LB's that we have; it's a good mix of youth and experience. Wood and Timmons are only beginning to tap their potential and with Davis now in the fold from this years draft you can us getting younger, stronger, and faster, right before our eyes. Guys like Foote & Farrior are vital to them team because of their proven experience. I like where we are headed; the Linebackers are the heart and soul of a 34 defense and these guys look to really take it to the next level in the great Steeler tradition of defenses.

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    Chairman of the Board Iron City South's Avatar
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    Funny, just a year or two ago I was afraid the future of the Steelers LB corps were a bleak one considering the age and lack of depth. Now, I look at who we have on our roster and the potential they represent and think we very well could have one of the best LB'ing corps in the league for years to come.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iron City South View Post
    Funny, just a year or two ago I was afraid the future of the Steelers LB corps were a bleak one considering the age and lack of depth. Now, I look at who we have on our roster and the potential they represent and think we very well could have one of the best LB'ing corps in the league for years to come.
    thats b/c u believed your boy fury that wood was gonna be a flop.

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    I think we always had the knack to produce good tough LBers, think this continues on with Woodley and Timmons. And hopefully Davis in the future.

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    i cant believe we drafted davis with avril and moore still on the board....im just not gonna get over it lol

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K Train View Post
    i cant believe we drafted davis with avril and moore still on the board....im just not gonna get over it lol
    When he gets starts making plays then maybe you'll forget about it

    I agree with ICS to a degree that last year heading into the draft it seemed like we allowed ourselves to get way too old at LB and not having any depth whatsoever was definitely a concern. Silverback played great last year, we all knew Haggans was gone, Farrior was back to his old self and Foote was solid but behind them was a whole lot of unproven talent. Then Wood showed that he definitely deserved more playing time last year and Timmons has had a year to learn the system and atleast get some time on the field so it's definitely a bright future for our Linebackers.

    The more I look at this Bruce Davis pick the more I like it; he's going to have time to learn and play ST for us and then fight for a starting job.

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    SA's #1 Pirates Fan Tetris Champion Black@Gold Forever32's Avatar
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    I'm excited since I see the potential of this current LB core....The last two seasons the LB's were solid but solid doesn't cut it when you're running a 3-4. In a 3-4 you need your LBs to constantly make big plays that change the tide of a football game....

    With Wood we should have our double digit sack guy on the outside which you need....Harrison should also be close to double digits in sacks as well.....The OLBs in a 3-4 defense must post close to double digits sacks....I thought Haggans was a solid player but he didn't bring enough consistent pressure so I'm pumped to see both Harrison and Woodley together for the whole season...

    With Lawrence Timmons being so versatile is huge for this defense....I see Timmons adding to the pass rush but his coverage ability will be the biggest asset to the defense....I don't see Timmons being a double digit sack guy...But I think 6-7 sacks to go along with 3-4 INTs will be efficient....Plus this kid will cause some fumbles and he will rack the tackles as well...

    Plus Bruce Davis and Mike Humpal are two young LBs that could add depth to this team in the future.....I see these two really just contributing on special teams this year....I think Davis will get some limited snaps like Woodley did last year....But I really think Bruce Davis will continue the tradition of college DE's making the transition to OLB for the Steelers....Then the more I read about Mike Humpal the more I like this guy......I think he will make the roster......

  9. #9
    Da Film Crew Mike Tomlin's Avatar
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    It's seems like we were so used to the names on our D from previous years that we forgot that they age lol! Tomlin had a game plan from day one to make our team youthful and hungry again instead of complacent and old.
    I think Bruce was a great pick up I mean he had more sacks in the last 2 years than any of the other DE taken before him,not to mention he was undersized. He fit great with us because he's a DE in a Linebackers body. He brings the emotion we missed when Porter left which is one of the biggest attributes you look for in a clutch player. Tomlin repeatly said the most important part of football is situational and I think you need a guy with that type of energy and confidence to pull you through those moments. I think he was picked before Avril and others because he shows his heart with his play.
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    I can't wait to see what Woodley and Timmons are going to do this season. Foote will start and if Timmons gets the D down I think he'll take over in mid season.

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