LATROBE — Lawrence Timmons has played everywhere, man, from Lambeau to London from San Francisco to San Diego. But the eight-year veteran has yet to play a game in Hawaii.
It’s the only blemish on an otherwise stellar resume.
The Steelers inside linebacker isn’t booking a trip to Honolulu in February just yet, but a Pro Bowl appearance — a first for Timmons -— would be well deserved and much appreciated by the oft-underrated 28-year-old.
“Not to be selfish, it’s something I’ve never done,” Timmons said Saturday after the first full day of training camp. “I’ve won a championship before but it’s always a goal for me. Since I was a little kid, I wanted to go to Hawaii. Definitely looking forward to it.”
Naturally, a trip to Arizona and the Super Bowl is preferable but, if not, the respect and admiration of his teammates will have to suffice.
“I feel like the way the team treats me, I’m appreciated, and that’s enough for me,” Timmons said.
While Troy Polamalu remains the face of the Steelers’ defense, Timmons has emerged as its undisputed leader, a player that his younger teammates are taught to emulate both on and off the field.
And with good reason. Timmons led or was tied for the lead in tackles every game last season among the team’s linebackers. He has registered 100 or more tackles in three of the last four seasons, including a career-high 155 last season.
At 28, Timmons is the “eldest” member of a dynamic young linebacker corps that includes 26-year-old Jason Worilds along with youngsters Jarvis Jones, 22, and Ryan Shazier, 21.
All but Worilds, who emerged as a weapon last season, were first-round picks (Worilds was a second rounder, by the way).
“Time flies, this is my eighth year,” said Timmons, who reported to camp eight pounds lighter (242). “When you hear eight years, you’re like ‘wow.’ That is kind of old in football years.”
A leaky defense has been the biggest culprit in Pittsburgh’s now two-year playoff drought. But, as Timmons says, this is a different year and a different team. Nearly 30 percent of last year’s team is gone.
The Steelers’ linebackers have the pedigree, now it’s time to put it to good use. Jones believes the Steelers’ quartet could be among the NFL’s best.
“That’s why you play this game,” he said. “We want to be, at the end of our careers, you want to be some of the best. I think we have a great group of guys to do that.”
Having former Steelers star linebacker Joey Porter around as a defensive assistant will help bring more fire and leadership, according to Timmons.
“Everyone knows the type of player (Porter) was, he brings that same mentality to his coaching,” Timmons said. “The players feel a sense of urgency in how he played.”
Picking up coordinator Dick LeBeau’s complicated defensive scheme won’t be easy for the youngsters. Timmons, the 15th overall pick in 2007, didn’t start until his third season.
“We’re a totally different ball club then when I came in,” Timmons said. “It’s hard to compare, but it’s obviously worked out for me.”