Prisuta's Fourth & Goal

The Steelers' deployment of Lawrence Timmons in passing downs -- or lack thereof -- suggests the first-time starter remains a work in progress.

Lawrence Timmons' impact against Green Bay --four tackles, two quarterback hurries -- was minimal.

So was his playing time, relatively speaking.

With the Packers facing a third-and-5 from the Green Bay 20-yard line early in the third quarter, Timmons was pulled from the game and the Steelers went with six defensive backs.

Timmons likewise was sent to the sideline prior to third-and-16 from the Green Bay 25. And again before a second-and-6 at the Steelers' 11 four snaps into the fourth quarter. And again prior to a third-and-14 from the Steelers' 24.

One reason for the relatively uncharacteristic reliance upon six DBs was that the Steelers were treating Packers tight end Jermichael Finley as a wide receiver in terms of match-ups. A personnel grouping of three wide receivers, a tight end and a running back that included Finley, thus, was viewed as a four-wides look by the Steelers' defense, which deployed accordingly.

Another was the Steelers' desire to find more playing time for Burnett.

That Timmons was yanked in those situations suggests he's still making mental mistakes, that there's been a perceptible loss of trust in Timmons on the part of the coaching staff.

Timmons is supposed to be a match-up nightmare for opponents. He's supposed to be able to cover wide receivers as well as unleash hell on QBs. He's supposed to be a three-down player.

Given his remarkable athleticism and seemingly limitless potential, the only reason Timmons shouldn't be on the field is because of injuries, which have cost him three starts and two games this season.

Despite the missed time, Timmons' six sacks have already surpassed the five he amassed in 2008. But he also blitzed when he wasn't supposed to, as did Taylor, on what turned into the winning touchdown pass on Dec. 6 against Oakland.

For Timmons, it's been that type of season -- hit or miss.

It's been the same for the Steelers' defense, which still ranks No. 6 overall despite the 436 total net yards surrendered against Green Bay.

The Steelers remain No. 1 against the run, which suggests Timmons replacing Larry Foote on first and second downs hasn't been an issue, particularly in a season in which the Steelers have played the vast majority of the time without Aaron Smith and Troy Polamalu.

And the job Timmons did on passing downs a year ago suggests he's more than capable of handling what he's required to in passing situations.

He isn't handling those situations as consistently this season, for whatever reason. That happens sometimes to first-year starters. But there's no fear in the locker room that Timmons is on his way to becoming the next Kendrell Bell.

Timmons will get it eventually and he'll be the terror the Steelers envision. He just hasn't been that this season.


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