Q&A: Lawrence Timmons

Jim Wexell goes one-on-one with the "Law Dawg," Lawrence Timmons, the Steelers' playcalling, Pro Bowl inside linebacker.

Lawrence Timmons, inside linebackers, Pittsburgh Steelers

Q: I hear the nickname "Law Dawg" so much that I want to call you that instead of Lawrence. Would you be mad?

A: Not at all. (Pause) I'd never be mad at you, come on.

Q: Well, you're a linebacker so you never know. I've seen James go up and down with me.

A: (Laughs) James a good dude, man.

Q: I know. I enjoy him. But how did your nickname come about?

A: Mike Tomlin gave it to me. You know, the Law in Lawrence.

Q: Yes. But when did it start?

A: It started a long time ago, like four or five years ago.

Q: I remember backs-on-backers when you were young, maybe your second year. Someone had to wear a neck brace the day after tangling with you. Tomlin uses you first to set a tone, it seems, but you seem to have more mercy on your younger teammates these days than you did back when you were the young guy.

A: Of course. You get older and you start to see what you do to people and you look at it and say, 'Nah, I can't do that to a guy.' I'm just out here trying to get better and just be smart about it. You've got to save your bullets. You can't just go out here and blast everybody like I did when I was younger. Who cared then? You could heal the next day. But now I have to be smart about it.

Q: Especially going against a guy like Le'Veon Bell. He's a bit of a key.

A: Right. He's our best player on offense, running back for us. He takes a lot of shots and I don't want to be the reason he's not playing for us, you know what I mean?

Q: In backs-on-backers, he's got to be scared of you then. But in coverage drills, when Tomlin always starts off with you covering Bell one-on-one, aren't you scared of him there?

A: Not scared of him, no. But you know it's tougher for me. I take it as a challenge, and it's a challenge I'm willing to take. Anything that he does to make me look bad, I take it as a challenge to be better the next play.

Q: He's got to be making you better, isn't he?

A: He's the best in the league, hands down. The best receiving running back in the league, hands down. Absolutely he's making me better.

Q: In goal line yesterday, you didn't show much mercy on the third snap. Who did you blow up?

A: It wasn't Le'Veon. It was another back.

Q: You filled the hole and blew him up.

A: Just doing my job. Like you.

Q: (Laugh) Good. But they scored on the other five snaps. Where were you?

A: You know --

Q: I know. That's a B.S. question.

A: (Laughs) I did overflow a little bit and they cut it back each time. We were there, just overrunning plays. That was our first time doing it and I feel we were just geeked up out there. We wanted to get to the ballcarrier and make a play.

Q: Not just you, but the whole defense was geeked up?

A: Everybody was. It was our first time in goal line and we wanted to set the tone. I think we just had a little too much energy.

Q: Did the coaches seem upset in film review?

A: We were professional about it. We lost, whatever, and they wanted to share their feelings about it, but they were pretty cool about it. We made our corrections and went from there.

Q: Every day you guys start practice with the get-off drill, and you win every time. Cameron Heyward says it's because you're Tomlin's first son (laughs).

A: That's funny. That's pretty funny. But I feel I just have a great get-off. He's mad because he's 310 and I'm 240. He's giving up a lot of pounds, but what can you do? Some of these guys, like Cam, they can run as fast as me in the 10, but he just loses. He just has to accept it for what it is. That's all. Great player, though. Great player.

Q: Is it the get-off start or the 10 yards that he's calling out 'Law Dawg'?

A: It's the start. Right.

Q: Tomlin was tough on you the first couple of years, wasn't he? It didn't seem like you were his first son, did it?

A: No. He was very tough. He put me in very tough situations all the time. And I just always came back. That must be what he loves about me. Anything he came at me with, I made sure I made the correction the next day. That's what he always appreciated about me. But when I was young, I used to do everything he asked of me and he never gave me credit. I first thought he hated me. But he just made me a tougher player. I saw that as I got older, He definitely made me better.

Q: I remember the day after you blew that guy up in backs-on-backers and all the writers were excited to write stories about you. Tomlin came back and said to a couple of us, 'Don't give him the Golden (expletive) Award just yet.'

A: Dayum (laughs). I didn't even know that, but, yeah. Like you said, that's pretty much the gist of things with how he was with me.

Q: But it's all been for the good, hasn't it?

A: For the best, for sure.

Q: How's your relationship with him now?

A: Great relationship with me, my family, parents, everyone. I'm very family-oriented, real tight, close-knit group. So it's nice.

Q: I met your family. How are they doing?

A: Awesome. Awesome. Mom and dad doing great. Sister's doing great.

Q: Are you married with kids?

A: Not married but I have three kids.

Q: Three?

A: I had twins.

Q: So you're the Law Dawg at home, too?

A: Absolutely. I lay down the law.

Q: Did you ever see the move Tombstone?

A: Yeah. Sabby?

Q: Sabby?

A: Yeah, he said 'Law don't go around here, Sabby.'

A: We've got a lot of good changes. Our D-line is looking real great. They're dominating the line of scrimmage. Besides the goal-line period yesterday, we pretty much owned the whole practice.

Q: That's what I thought.

A: We kind of got lax there, but all of our defenders are playing well. Our first and second team isn't that much different. You won't see much of a drop-off. Our linebackers, Vince Williams and Sean Spence, they're doing a great job. Our outside linebackers, Bud Dupree has been outstanding. Chill, the guy from UM, Chilly. He's been doing great.

Q: You Florida State guys don't call it 'The U'?

A: No. No. I'm not giving him credit now. That school over there. But they're doing great. We've got a lot of young guys doing real well right now.

Q: With the cover-2 the inside guys have to drop more in coverage. Do you like that?

A: I'm willing to be up for any task. Coach Butler's doing a great job with Jerry O. We're honed in on everything. It's fun now.

Q: Anything else interesting about this camp or this club?

A: It's interesting that we don't have anybody from the past Super Bowls on defense who really has a vital role. That's different.

Q: James?

A: Well, James, sure. But just having James is kind of weird.

Q: He's a backup now, but we'll see.

A: Yeah, when he gets back we'll see how it goes. But I think my point is that this defense is almost totally rebuilt. And we'll see how that goes, but I'm excited.

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