Timmons thinks he'll play

Linebacker Lawrence Timmons injured, but thinks he'll be able to play in opener. Keyaron Fox is ready, just in case.

PITTSBURGH – Lawrence Timmons had a smile on his face and a walking boot on his left foot in the hallway Tuesday at the Steelers' South Side practice facility.

The smile and the boot didn't exactly go together.

Will the young linebacker be ready for the opener in eight days?

"Oh, yeah, I'm going to play in the opener," he said, a bit surprised by the question.

Timmons was asked if he's 100 percent certain.

"Nobody can be certain about anything," he said, "but I really think I'll play."

Timmons explained that his injured ankle was "a mild high ankle sprain," and that he only expects to miss Thursday night's preseason finale at Carolina. The Steelers open the regular season the following Thursday at home against the Tennessee Titans.

Reserve Keyaron Fox, who had made his own highlight reel last Saturday night with several punishing tackles against Buffalo, is ready just in case Timmons isn't.

"I've been preparing myself at both the buck and mack, just in case somebody got hurt," said Fox. "I'm ready."

Actually, the mack linebacker spot, where Timmons replaced Larry Foote this season, is an easier position – mentally – than the buck, where captain James Farrior makes the calls and adjustments in Dick LeBeau's defense.

As he is this preseason, Fox played well last preseason, but rarely played linebacker in the regular season because he didn't know what he was doing.

"I knew enough to get by and go out there and make it look good, but I don't think coaches were comfortable. I probably wasn't comfortable," Fox said. "I'm comfortable playing the buck position now, but not making the calls will give me time to think about what I have to do at the mack."

Even though Fox played little linebacker last season, he was second to Anthony Madison in special teams tackles. This preseason he's even better in kick coverage.

"In my heart I feel I'm not just a special teams guy. I'd much rather play linebacker," Fox said. "But last year, with all the great talent we had at linebacker, I pretty much just settled into that role. I didn't feel like I was able to compete for a starting position because I didn't know the defense. It allowed me to be comfortable and play hard at special teams and I was straight. In Kansas City, I felt I should've been on the field at linebacker, so I never really dedicated 100 percent of my time to special teams."


Rookie fullback Frank Summers returned to practice, or what the veterans dubbed "Young Guys Day."

Still sidelined were Willie Parker, Carey Davis, Santonio Holmes, Sean McHugh, Timmons, and Dennis Dixon.

It's doubtful any of them will play Thursday, and McHugh and Dixon are doubtful for the opener. But Davis (ankle) and Holmes (back) are expected to return in time, as is Parker, who refused to confirm that he has a minor hamstring injury.

"All I can tell you is that I'm going to play in the opener," Parker said.


Ben Roethlisberger, on playing the Titans in the opener:

"I like a challenge. I don't want to come out and play the easiest team in the NFL. I'm liking this challenge because they're a great football team and we owe them one."

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