Lawrence Timmons Talks About Moving To Buck Linebacker Position Full-Time

During the 2011 season, Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons was forced to start four games at right outside linebacker due to then-starter James Harrison being sidelined with a fractured orbital bone. Those four games didn’t go well for the former first-round draft pick and he hasn’t been asked to start outside since and likely never will be again.

“That’s over,” Timmons said recently, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’m strictly an inside guy.”

This year, Timmons is on the move inside, however, as he’s now playing the buck spot that was manned previously by Larry Foote now that first-round draft pick Ryan Shazier is expected to play the mack position on the weak side.

Timmons talked about making the move.

“It was an adjustment,” Timmons said. “The mack is similar, it’s just that I’m taking on the inside more, instead of me being the mac on the outside. I hit the O-linemen a whole lot more; I’m in the box more.”

Last season when Foote went down with a biceps injury in the season opener, Timmons stayed at the mack position but took over the responsibility of calling the defensive signals. That won’t change this year and last week linebackers coach Keith Butler talked about that during an interview with David Todd of ESPN 970 Radio.

“He did that last year,” said Butler of Timmons. “When Larry Foote got hurt, it hurt us because Lawrence had never done that and he took the responsibility well. And from the mack position he made the defensive calls and tried to set the front and all of that stuff.

“We’re going to do that again this year with him from the buck position. We moved him to the buck position because we felt like it was the best position for him and what he had on the team. He’s still calling signals and setting the front, but the mack is helping him. So when he’s got his back turned to the offense, the mack can help him run the defense.”

Timmons has been an iron man of sorts for the Steelers over the course of his entire career in Pittsburgh. In fact, not only has played in every game over the course of the last four seasons, he’s only missed 115 snaps during that span of time and just two snaps in the last two seasons.

Now that he’s a full-time buck, Timmons doesn’t seem to be phased by him potentially having to take on offensive linemen more often.

“I have O-linemen confrontations all the time,” he told Bouchette. “It comes with the job.”

  • DoctorNoah

    There’s been some basic coverage of it before, mostly in comments, but I would LOVE it if Alex, Dave, or Matt could give us an animated-GIF chalk talk on the mack vs buck position as Lebeau uses it. Very few of the tactical websites out there give much consideration of 3-4 fronts, so all is hear is Will Mike and Sam…

  • steeltown

    Very true. From what ive gathered over the yrs, the BUCK is literally a take on blockers inside role while the MAC is definitely more of a sideline to sideline run and hit role, usually with no gap assignment, speed and backside pursuit are a must, which is why Shazier and Spence are geared more towards the MAC position, like Timmons was previously with Farrior/Foote at BUCK

  • Jonas

    Indeed, with 2-gap responsibilty of the Line, the LBs do not have certain gaps to shoot.
    The outside linebackers are usually setting the edge, while the inside linebacker follow the flow – okay the backside OLB will pursuit the RB, too, still has to close cutback lanes..
    The specific roles of ILB are like steeltown said: Buck usually takes the lead blocker (again, outside leverage to contain, shedding allowed 😉 ) and Mack is the athletic, sideline-to-sideline guy who flies (at best unblocked) in the hole to tackle the ball carrier..

  • treeher

    We gonna be fast fast fast. By the way, hope this article does not jinx Timmons injury-wise.

  • Virdin Barzey

    I like the fact that the defense will be fast but I’m concerned about the run in which they will be dealing with o-linemen. I was not a Timmons fan when he started and called him Timmid during that time. He has grown and is much much better but at times he can’t get of the o-line blocks even though he is fast.

    This is what concerns me about our linebackers being fast. The question is are they strong as well since they will need to be shedding blocks. Shazier is not that big so it will be interesting to see how he does. The one thing I liked about Spence over all is he knows how to get around those linemen and make the play.

    If there is a concern this season, it definitely on that defense. A lot of ifs.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I agree with just about everything you said here. It seems to me like we’ve drafted 3 Mac linebackers (Timmons, Shazier, Spence). The only true Buck on the roster is Vince Williams.

    That will really help in coverage but our run game is going to suffer. Not that that’s a bad thing. I’d rather invite the Patriots and Broncos to run against our lighter ILBs than let them pass 50 times a game against our big slow ILBs.

    This is where it’s CRUCIAL for our D line to draw double teams. To free up our light LBs.

  • 2443scott

    the law timmons as i like to call him should help stop the run hes a tackleing machine …and keeping him in one spot is the right thing to do so he can work on that spot …


    Curious to see what my fellow commenters think about something that has been on my mind….
    With Shazier, Timmons, Spence, and Williams we are pretty solid at ILB, whereas not so much at OLB.
    Given that Spence appears to be all the way back (so good to see for him), what would anyone think about putting Shazier in an OLB role? Not all the time, but situationally (passing downs).
    I believe Shazier played OLB at OSU, but I also believe that was a 4-3 rather than LeBeau’s 3-4.
    The only tough part I could see would be his ability to hold the edge against the run, but if he is playing ILB, he has to be staunch against the run anyway, right?
    Just seems like a possible solution in case of injury, or in case Worilds and Jones don’t perform.

  • Ike Evans

    Name the last big ILBs we had….cuz im thinkin kirkland and holmes and we won 2 championships since them

  • keth Naab

    Kendrell Bell

  • keth Naab

    i wonder if shazier couldn’t fill the role a bit on passing downs. He’s a liability vs. the run though at OLB in a classic running situation, teams will run right at him. I do think he has the speed for it. Shazier played OLB at OSU but that was in a 4-3, very different responsiblities. I think he’d be better at it than Timmons was a few years back, but ultimately I think guys like Vince Williams and Jordan Zumwalt might want to practice their dip and rip (as well as their ST coverage) in order to make the team at our most stacked position

  • steeltown

    Actually they did just that the other day in practice, Jarvis lined up inside (which he did a lot of in college) and Shazier was outside (which he did college) I think we’ll see some crazy packages this season and beyond

  • I remember reading on that rep they both rushed from the outside, Shazier hit the tackle while Jones looped around from behind. A common blitz stunt designed to overload and confuse the guard, tackle and blocking te/rb in Lebeau scheme.

  • mokhkw

    That’s basically correct although some of it doesn’t apply as much as it used to with spread formations. Buck LB lines up on the TEs side traditionally and is more a take on guy while the Mack gets to go around/under the blockers & make plays vs the run.

    I think the whole Timmons-Shazier-Spence-Williams ILB is the most interesting change for the Steelers this year. Timmons is not a Buck like Farrior was, how will he go having to take on a Guard when he’s used to making plays from Mack while the Buck did the dirty work?

    Is Shazier a better take on blockers guy than Timmons? He may well be although its way 2 early to tell yet.

    Then over here we have Williams, a more traditional Buck than either Timmons or Shazier. Will he carve out a role as a short yardage & goal line Buck?

    I’m expecting some growing pains vs the run but the potential for blitzing and coverage vs the pass is gonna give opposing OCs some sleepless nights.

  • Louis Goetz

    Timmons and Williams are both in the 245 lb. range, while Spence and Shazier are maybe 10 lbs. lighter. K. Bell was about the same size as Timmons and Williams are. So was Earl Holmes, but no linebacker has ever been like Levon Krikland, who played at about 280+. Earl Holmes is now the head coach of FAMU and Kirkland coaches the linebackers, while Ernie Mills coaches their wideouts.

  • Louis Goetz

    I’m afraid he’d just get swallowed up one on one against offensive lineman. I’d rather see him blitz from the inside and use his speed to exploit whatever lane is made by the bigger guys opening holes for him. On top of that, all he’d have on the outside is a speed rush move to get around the outside. He’s certainly not going to bull rush a right tackle back into the QB. him being on the outside would also allow offenses to put a TE over Jarvis Jones, making him that much less effective, at the same time.

  • steeltown

    Agreed. We have some very intriguing athletes.