Comparisons between Steelers rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier and and veteran LB Lawrence Timmons are easy to make.
Both were first round draft picks, both were selected 15th overall in the draft and both play the inside linebacker position. It is only fitting that it is Timmons that takes on the mentor role for Shazier, just as James Farrior did for Timmons when he was a rookie.
Timmons isn't just preparing Shazier for life in the NFL, but to be a leader. He is preparing to be the voice of the Steelers' defense by switching from the 'mack' linebacker position to the 'buck' position. In Dick LeBeau's defense, it is the buck linebacker that typically makes all the defensive calls in the huddle, as well as changes on the field. Something that Timmons saw done to near perfection by Farrior.
Timmons is up to the challenge of being that vocal leader as he told Jim Wexell at OTAs, "I'm pretty much the guy, as far as guys looking up toward a leader. I'm definitely trying to show them how to go about the game. Joey Porter and Coach (Keith) Butler give me tips how to do that. I just enjoy playing anywhere."
When looking at the Steelers' potential starting 11 on defense, it is clearly evident that the leaders on the team have evaporated and left Timmons, Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor as veterans that are expected to lead this young defense forward.
Although the Steelers can rely on a improved Timmons stepping up on and off the field, its Timmons that realizes that he is just one piece of the puzzle, "I'm calling the defense. But it's a team. It's a team defense."