If you watched any of the Pittsburgh Steelers games from last year when right outside linebacker James Harrison was sidelined for four weeks with his fractured orbital bone suffered against the Houston Texans, you clearly know that replacing Harrison with inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons is not something the Steelers ever want to have to do again.
During those four games that Harrison missed, Timmons struggled mightily at both rushing the passer and defending against the run while playing outside. He did not record a sack in his 100 plus times he rushed the passer from outside and he barely registered a hurry or a hit on the opposing quarterback in addition. Once again, if you watched the games, this is not news to you.
Now that Harrison has undergone the scope procedure on his right knee today, there might be a slim, slim chance that he is not ready to start the season. I say slim because we still have a long way to go until that first Sunday night game in Denver, and Harrison has had the surgery performed soon enough that it is fathomable that he could be ready to play, albeit he might miss all of the preseason action.
Should Harrison not be ready, the Steelers will turn to either Jason Worilds or Chris Carter to play outside, not Timmons. Worilds continues to be a mystery right now after undergoing wrist surgery this offseason, and like Harrison, he remains on the PUP list. He is working on the side right now, however, and rumblings are that he might be able to return to practice soon.
Should both Harrison and Worilds not be ready, Carter would be the one to get the start as he has been taking all of the first team reps at the right outside linebacker spot with both Harrison and Worilds sidelined. I checked with Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review to see if Timmons has received any work at all at the right outside linebacker spot thus far during training camp and he informed that he hasn\’t. That is not shocking and further confirms by belief that Timmons is now way down the list of options that the Steelers are considering should both Harrison and Worilds not be able to start the season.
While Carter is not the ideal solution, mostly because of this lack of experience, the extra snaps he is getting in practice along with the good chunk of playing time that he figures to get during the rest of the preseason should help him progress even more and it should make him a better option outside than Timmons would be.
Timmons is best when playing inside and his drop in production last year, that I broke down this offseason, showed that the likely reason of that was indeed because of the time that he was forced to play outside due to all of the injuries.