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Thread: Timmons seems poised to oust Foote at inside LB

          
   
   
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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Timmons seems poised to oust Foote at inside LB

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08163...?cmpid=HBEHTML

    As Big Brown discovered, nothing is a sure thing in sports, not even a 1-7 shot. The closest, though, might be this: If you're drafted in the first round by the Steelers, you will have a starting job no later than your second pro season.

    Only one of their first-round draft choices did not become a regular starter by at least his second season since the infamous Huey Richardson in 1991. That was offensive tackle Jamain Stephens, a monumental bust of a pick in '96. Stephens did not become a regular until '98 and was cut the night after he collapsed, out of shape, during running drills on the first day of training camp the next season.

    Those are the cold, hard facts that face Larry Foote as he tries to hold onto his starting job at inside linebacker this spring and summer. Foote has been the Steelers' starting mack inside linebacker the past four seasons, lining up next to James Farrior. During that time, he started all 64 games and led the team with 123 tackles in 2005, despite not playing in their dime defense on passing downs.

    Looming large behind him on the spring depth chart is Lawrence Timmons, the Steelers' first-round choice in 2007, the 15th overall pick and the first under Mike Tomlin's watch.

    The result of the competition going on at the mack linebacker looks inevitable.

    "I don't think it's competition," Foote said after another spring practice. "I really think it's just a matter of time until they throw him in there, just because of the politics of the game -- and it looks like he can play."

    That's a major difference between Timmons and Stephens/Richardson, each of whom showed a stunning inability to play on the pro level right from the start. Timmons played mostly on special teams last season and has displayed great speed and quickness in practices.

    He must show he knows the defense and has the football instincts that mesmerized Tomlin when he saw him at Florida State.

    "We don't know yet because he hasn't been out there," Foote said of Timmons' limited play in games, "but it looks like he can get it down.

    "My time might be winding down at that position. It's just a matter of when the coaches throw him in there."

    Foote won't give up his four-year hold on the job without a fight, despite his words that merely reflect an understanding of the situation.

    "My whole career has been up and down. I've been in this spot before. You can't worry about that stuff. When they feel like he's ready, I'm quite sure he's going to be in there."

    Farrior was a first-round draft choice of the New York Jets who had trouble finding a regular position until he signed with the Steelers as a free agent in 2002 and flourished here. He, too, believes Timmons can handle the job, but will have to pry it away from Foote's grasp first.

    "It's not going to be an easy win if he's trying to take the spot," Farrior said. "We all want to win and we all want to do what's best for the team. Whatever that is and whatever the coaches ask us to do we have to do."

    It's feasible that ultimately Timmons could play the buck linebacker position, the one Farrior holds. Barring injuries, that won't happen this season, but Farrior, 33, enters the final season of his contract, and Timmons' abilities seem suited more for the buck than the mack.

    The buck must drop and cover receivers more often, must be quick and fast -- it's a more athletic position. The buck usually stays on the field in the dime defense as the lone inside linebacker; he's the one who calls the defensive signals, and Farrior will wear the helmet with the radio receiver in it this season.

    Tomlin does not publicly analyze the various competitions on his team this spring, but he's known to be excited about Timmons' possibilities. He's having a much better time of it than he did as a rookie, when his hamstring was injured in the first minicamp practice and he missed the rest of the spring drills with his new teammates.

    "He's healthy, for one," Farrior said. "And I think this offseason gave him some time to reflect and look back on the defense and try to really understand it. I think he's coming along just fine."
    See this is what I don't like. If Timmons can beat out Foote for the starting job then fine, so be it and he'll have earned the spot. If he just gets that spot by default because he's a 1st round pick and coaches just want him on the field then that's BS, IMO. This is what I was hoping would change when Tomlin get the job; players would have to earn their roster spots and not just be given them because of their status from the draft or their contract. This is what so many teams in the league do and what Cowher made a habit of doing; we need to have players on the field who win the battles in training camp outright.

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    K Train's Avatar
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    every report ive heard about timmons has been very encouraging, seems like hes gonna be a badass. and with cowher it was a complete opposite. young players NEVER won starting jobs if one of cowhers boys was still in that spot, its refreshing to see timmons win that job, they wont give it to him if he cant do it, but the fact that they will give it to him is a good sign

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    Put the kid in and see what he can do...

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    2nd String okiesteeler's Avatar
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    I dont want to see Foote go anywhere, he is a good lb, and if he loses the job, then i think that he will want to be traded to somewhere that he can play

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    1st, I don't think Foote will lose the battle, but if he does, all the better for us because if Timmons is better than Foote, we have substantial back up and ST player.
    2nd, Foote is a Bettis disciple and has bought into the "Team First" mentality and I believe he will stay put and help out the best he can where he can.

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Foote knows how the NFL works and even when you've been a good player and done your job there's no guarantee you'll keep it when high round draft picks come in or if you get towards the down side of your career. I think Larry has a good 4 years left in him and he's done very well for us. I'd like to see him stay with us and end his career but if he doesn't keep his job in 2008 he'll probably want to go elsewhere.

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    Rookie Free Agent SteelfordWexler's Avatar
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    If our scouts did their job - Timmons should win the job from Foote this year. The interesting problem comes next year. What will the FO do with Farrior? If history holds - don't expect Farrior to get extended unless he accepts a discount. The article points out that Timmons fits Farrior's "Buck" position better than Foote's "Mack" - so the decision on Farrior may hinge on how well Timmons plays this year.

    If things go the way it looks now, we may see Foote back in the starting lineup as "Mack" in 2009 after spending this year as a reserve. I think he is under contract thru 2010.

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    K Train's Avatar
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    i think timmons is versatile enough to play all four spots, which has been what farrior has been able to do too. actually harrison plays very well in the middle too. Foote is very one dimensional in his game, as is woodley as a pass rushing OLB. Farrior, harrison and timmons all bring alot of flexibility

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    SA's #1 Pirates Fan Tetris Champion Black@Gold Forever32's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K Train View Post
    i think timmons is versatile enough to play all four spots, which has been what farrior has been able to do too. actually harrison plays very well in the middle too. Foote is very one dimensional in his game, as is woodley as a pass rushing OLB. Farrior, harrison and timmons all bring alot of flexibility
    Nice post and agree 100 percent......Plus Foote doesn't have Timmon's speed and athleticism..........Foote is a good player but he doesn't have the wow factor that Timmons has....You can tell when you watch Timmons that he has that type of potential....

    I think even if Foote is the a backup that he will be cool with it....He is smart enough to know that Farrior's status with the team is up in the year for next year...So he could regain his starters spot next year and Timmons replaces Farrior.....

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    K Train's Avatar
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    yeah until bruce davis wows them and they have to put him in harrisons spot and slide james to the middle lol.

    i dunno, foote has a big on field ego. not sure he'll take kindly to the bench

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