Napkins, envelopes, random pieces of paper -- none have been safe around Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau lately.
It is hardly uncommon for LeBeau (or any coach for that matter) to commit the ideas that are constantly swirling around his head to paper -- or whatever happens to be the closest thing on which he can write.
But LeBeau said there has been one significant difference between the creative impulse that followed the NFL draft and countless ones that preceded it.
The Steelers' taking outside linebackers Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley with their first two picks has really brought out the mad scientist in LeBeau.
"This particular time I started drawing, and I didn't quit," LeBeau said Wednesday. "It always looks good on paper. We'll see how it looks on the field."
LeBeau will get a look this weekend, as the Steelers hold the second of two mini-camps at their South Side practice facility.
The linebacker corps, which is to LeBeau's blitzing defense what oxygen is to breathing, will look radically different from when the Steelers convened for five practices a couple of weeks ago.
That is due in large part to the additions of Timmons and Woodley with whom the Steelers became so smitten because of their potential as pass rushers and their versatility.
Timmons, the 15th overall pick of the draft, and Woodley will give LeBeau flexibility if the Steelers were correct in evaluating the two players.
Perhaps that is why LeBeau found himself scribbling like crazy in the days that followed the Steelers using their top two picks to address the same position for the first time since since 1987 (they drafted cornerbacks Rod Woodson and Delton Hall in the first and second round, respectively).
He devised 15 new plays with Timmons and Woodley in mind and stopped himself there, LeBeau said, since "I thought 'Hey, this is enough. Let's see if any of these are any good.' "
The Steelers also have to see how smooth of a transition Timmons and Woodley make from college to the NFL before those plays are worth more than the scraps of paper on which they were initially written.
They are converting Woodley, who starred at Michigan, from defensive end to outside linebacker. The learning curve also could be a steep one for Timmons since he started only one season at Florida State.
The two are slated to play different positions (Timmons at right outside linebacker and Woodley at left outside linebacker), but part of their appeal to the Steelers is that they won't be confined to one position.
That is why mini-camp will serve the dual purpose of getting Timmons and Woodley familiar with LeBeau's defense and LeBeau getting a better feel for what all they can do.
If the two are as athletic and versatile as the Steelers have pegged them to be, LeBeau might find himself writing new plays on everything but his hand before the start of training camp.
"Our task is now really to see what the best fit for these young men within the scope of our defense is and what is best for the Pittsburgh Steelers," LeBeau said. "So it's going to be an interesting couple of years figuring out what they do best and where they can best help the Steelers return to a championship team."
By Scott Brown
Thursday, May 10, 2007