By Scott Brown
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Just as when he visited the Steelers about three weeks ago, Lawrence Timmons met with coaches and got a better feel for the team.
There was one significant difference between Timmons' pre-draft interview April 11 at the Steelers' South Side facility and Monday.
This time, Steelers president Art Rooney II and coach Mike Tomlin presented him with a black-and-gold jersey with the No. 1 on it.
Less than 48 hours after the Steelers made Timmons the 15th overall pick of the NFL draft, the outside linebacker from Florida State met with reporters -- and got at least a glimpse into how much his life has changed.
"I've never been through anything like this, all the cameras, just being in a big city like Pittsburgh," said Timmons, who won't turn 21 until May 14. "I think it will be just a hard change altogether because this is the NFL.
"It's just a challenge I'm just going to have to take. I know I'll be all right."
Timmons proved to be as quiet and soft-spoken as advertised, and at times, he struggled to be heard over the clicking of cameras.
But Timmons became the first linebacker the Steelers have drafted in the first round since 1991 because he is much better in front of cameras on the field than off it.
He no doubt had them focused on him last season.
Timmons recorded 18 tackles for losses in 2006, the only season he started at Florida State, and had five sacks. The 6-foot-1, 234-pounder also blocked two punts and scored three touchdowns on either defense or special teams.
"He's got exceptional burst to the ball," Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler said, "and he arrives angry to the ball."
The Steelers will soon get to see some of that attitude.
Timmons says he will spend the next two weeks working out at home in Florence, S.C., before returning for Steelers' minicamp, which will be May 11-13.
His ties to Pittsburgh now go beyond having a father who played one season of college basketball at Duquesne and knowing Levon Kirkland (Timmons grew up about 10 minutes from where the former Steelers linebacker hails).
And the number on the jersey given to Timmons yesterday doesn't just signify his status as a first-round pick, but also the lofty expectations that come with such status.
The Steelers took Timmons to compete with James Harrison for Joey Porter's old spot at outside linebacker and boost their special-teams play.
His appeal as a player also lies in his versatility.
Timmons played in a 4-3 defense at Florida State and proved to be as adept as dropping back into coverage as he was at rushing the quarterback.
The Steelers will almost certainly use him in a number of different ways, since they seem intent on showing teams multiple looks on defense next season.
"I just try to play anywhere that helps the defense win games," Timmons said. "I think my versatility is what makes me such a great player."