Steelers Not Likely To Use Timmons Outside Again Should Harrison Not Be Ready

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.

  • Bob Francis

    Dave, have you read the Football Outsiders Almanac entry on the Steelers? Really interesting stuff. They speak well of Worilds, saying he almost led the team in QB hurries last year despite only starting 7 games. Of course it’d be great to have Harrison healthy and ready for Week 1, but Outsiders help me feel better abt Worilds. And maybe Carter emerges, esp. with the work he’s been getting. He had no offseason last year plus his injury, so this is his first extended work. If Harrison is a cap casualty after this season, this extended time for Carter might be a blessing in disguise.

  • SteelersDepot


  • Steve Duncan

    Personally, I would feel better with Carter outside and Timmons at ILB than with Timmons outside, if it came to that.

  • neithborhooddrunk

    Chris carter is staring week one, Worilds will be riding the bench!

  • SteelSpine

    Any chance Adrian Robinson or Brandon Johnson could pass up Chris Carter on the depth chart at OLB? I mean if those 2 continue to be the stars of preason games, & if Harrison is not ready. Only been one game but those 2 at OLB wow’d more than anyone, including Carter. I know they’re new to the Steelers, but what if they dominate more preseason games.

  • zyzak

    I have a feeling that Timmons will play OLB in Denver. Carter is not good enough. i have no confidence that Worlds will play. He’s been a disaster with injuries and can’t stay on the field

  • SteelerDave

    I’ve been impressed enough by Adrian Robinson to look into him much more in depth. The positive is that he does an amazing spin move in rushing the QB and an uncanny ability to sniff out the QB. The negative is that he needs to add 10 to 20 pounds of muscle. If he has to bull rush then he becomes invisible. His run stopping is average at best. He could best be used this season as a situational outside LB rusher on passing downs. I would be really curious to see what he could become if would spend next off-season with a strength and conditioning coach.

  • Funny, when asked how Timmons was doing replacing Harrison last year, the Steelers claimed he was doing a good job. From what I saw, he was terrible. I personally hope they don’t put him back there. We really need Timmons to take his game to another level this year. He really needs to start being the biggest impact player since Pola is getting up there.

  • Steve Duncan

    Did you watch last season? Timmons is not good enough at OLB, that is the whole point of this article. ESPN just put up almost the exact same article as well.