2014 Steelers season scenarios: Lawrence Timmons plays 1,000 snaps for third straight year

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers linebacker hasn't missed a game since Week 9 of the 2009 season, giving him an impressive 72-games played streak. He's played 1,000 snaps or more in each of the last two seasons.

Scenario: Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons plays in 16 regular season games in 2014, extending his streak to 88 straight without missing one.

Why it will happen: Timmons has turned into something of an iron man for the team. His presence has become something perhaps people take for granted, but on a team with a large rate of injury and turnover, his streak is impressive. The Steelers aren't flatly looking for him to extend his streak, they're counting on him to have another solid, if not outstanding, season.

He's still young but on the heavier side of the NFL in terms of experience. Few players at age 28 will have played in 110 regular season games, but that's Timmons, never having earned a trip to the Pro Bowl but still averaging nearly six tackles a game and having notched 26 sacks, 12 forced fumbles and nine interceptions through those eight seasons.

Along with his obvious durability, it's simply too difficult for the Steelers to get him off the field. He's logged back-to-back 1,000 snap seasons and with the youth and inexperience the Steelers have at inside linebacker, barring injury, he's a lock for another 1,000 snaps - a figure that will likely lead the defense.

Why it won't happen: The Steelers have the opportunity to be a bit more flexible on the defensive side of the ball. First round pick Ryan Shazier looks to start opposite Timmons, but the Steelers are able to work in Sean Spence - all signs point to him being able to contribute in 2014 - and Vince Williams - who replaced injured Larry Foote in 2013 - depending on their opponent. Establishing that kind of depth and versatility can only help the defense.

Because of the possibility of that depth, if they can rest Timmons for an additional few snaps every game, he may be fresher down the line. Not that there is a concern of him wearing out, it's just something that happens to every player. The difference between 900 snaps at the end of Week 16 and 1,000 is huge, but not likely something that will make a huge impact on the defense over the course of the year.

Keys: It will come down to what Shazier, Spence and Williams can do individually or as their own group. Timmons' experience is more than all three combined, and it's tough to take a player with that much game time off the field, but the Steelers may want to start thinking about getting him some rest for the long haul.

Whether they do that remains to be seen, but all signs suggest right now Timmons will make it three years in a row logging quadruple-digit snaps.

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