More tidbits from the Digest.....
Coach Mike Tomlin has said repeatedly that there are high expectations for the players going into their second seasons, and several members of the class of 2007 have shown flashes of living up to those expectations.
Lawrence Timmons, the No. 1 pick of that draft, arrived at Saint Vincent College bigger and stronger than he was as a rookie, and he has been showcasing what Tomlin called the RH factor (run and hit). This was most evident during the team’s night practice at Latrobe Stadium on Aug. 1, when Timmons dominated Cody Boyd, Justin Vincent, Gary Russell and Dezmond Sherrod in a backs-on-backers drill.
“Lawrence is a guy on the come,” said Tomlin. “We challenged him to be at his best. He’s a second-year guy along with everybody else in his class, and I really think he has embraced that challenge. He’s a talented guy, as you guys can see, but he’s not a finished product by any means. But he does have an attitude to come out here and get better every time we work.”
What Timmons has not done is wrest the starting inside linebacker job from veteran Larry Foote. Currently, Timmons is the backup at that “Mack” position, as well as being No. 2 at right outside linebacker. According to one published report, linebackers coach Keith Butler said the starting job still belongs to Foote. “He moved around well. He moved around real well,” said Butler about Timmons during the night practice. “He still did some technical things I’m not happy with, and we’re going to get those corrected. But the great thing about him is he’s willing to be corrected, willing to be coached, and if he’s that, he’ll get better.”
LaMarr Woodley, the No. 2 pick in 2007, has been the starter at left outside linebacker
since the day the previous season ended with a loss to Jacksonville in the playoffs, and even though he was a defensive end in college he has not been overwhelmed. In fact,
there seems to be no concern about whether Woodley will be able to handle the job.
Some of the most competitive battles of the first week were waged by Woodley going against either Willie Colon or Max Starks in one-on-one pass-rush drills. One afternoon,
Tomlin ordered Woodley and Starks to take three successive repetitions against each other, and the secondyear pro won two of those.
“You’ve got to be able to take coaching, and I can,” said Woodley. “As long as he’s talking to me, that’s a good thing. When people stop talking to you, that’s when you need
to start worrying about stuff.”
A couple of other second-year players who have made an impression so far include William Gay and Darnell Stapleton, both of whom have exhibited what Tomlin loves to
call “position flexibility.”
Gay, the fifth-round draft pick who played cornerback last year as a rookie, has been taking repetitions at safety and has shown some aptitude for both spots. Stapleton, who made the roster as an undrafted rookie, has played both guard spots as well as center, often moving from one position to the next on consecutive snaps within the same drill.