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Undervalued and underrated Lawrence Timmons

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Seldom does MLB Lawrence Timmons' name show up in rankings of the best defensive players in the NFL, yet he's as consistent a contributor as exists.

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Lawrence Timmons, in many ways, is a bit of a throwback to the days of the "Steel Curtain" linebackers. He's a tackling machine (10th in the NFL with 108 tackles) and he's a rigorous attendant to his body (has missed only two games in eight professional seasons). But most of all, he lets his play do the talking. Timmons rarely trash talks opponents. Bone-crushing tackles are followed by him popping up and jogging back to the huddle to deal out more punishment.

Unlike Jack Ham or Jack Lambert, who have 17 Pro Bowl selections between them, Timmons hasn't yet reached a level of national recognition. Timmons hasn't been elected to the Pro Bowl, despite being a consistent standout in a complicated defensive scheme orchestrated by Dick LeBeau.

In fact, it could be argued that Timmons has been one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL during the last three seasons. In addition to his good season so far this year, Timmons was one of the top tacklers in 2013 with 126, adding three sacks, two forced-fumbles and a pair of interceptions. Perhaps Timmons' best season came in 2012, when the former first-round draft pick from Florida State racked up 106 tackles, six sacks (second-most in the league among inside linebackers), a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, three interceptions and a touchdown. Playing in a 3-4 defense, Timmons typically shares the tackling spotlight with a fellow inside linebacker, meaning he isn't posting outrageous tackling totals like Luke Kuechly.  With a defense that has been a far cry from a typical Steelers defense, Timmons isn't given the amount of credit garnered by Navarro Bowman or Patrick Willis.

Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons having excellent season.

Pro Bowl finalists are announced on Tuesday and Timmons currently finds himself fourth in voting among inside linebackers. Kuechly, Karlos Dansby, and rookie C.J. Mosley are all ahead of Timmons in voting thus far, with Dansby and Mosley sharing a division with Timmons, hailing from rivals Cleveland and Baltimore, respectively.

The Pittsburgh defense has certainly struggled in recent seasons, including 2014. Injuries, suspect play and a constant rotation of talent have left several question marks in the unit, but Timmons has remained the one constant, playing in 67 consecutive games, a streak which dates back to 2009.

Until this season, Timmons' value has gone seemingly unnoticed. He's finally garnering a little bit of attention, but has a long way to go before he can convince people outside of Pittsburgh he's on the same level as Kuechly, Bowman, or Willis. With the Steelers in position for a playoff run, perhaps Timmons has just the stage he needs to do that.

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