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Wednesday Notebook: No linebacker controversy in Pittsburgh

Starting in place of Lawrence Timmons Monday night, inside linebacker Keyaron Fox led the Steelers with 9 total tackles including 8 solo tackles against the Broncos
Fox drew praise from head coach Mike Tomlin following the game and again on Tuesday at Tomlin’s weekly press conference.
“Guys like James Farrior and Keyaron Fox really created a lot of disruption,” Tomlin said. Even though neither guy registered a sack, they created disruption. They broke the pocket down. Guys did a nice job complementing that with solid coverage on the back end, and as the evening wore on we were able to gain a significant advantage in that regard.”
There is some thought around the Steelers that Keyaron Fox is a better fit for the Steelers system, playing a Larry Foote kind of role but the coaching staff doesn’t see it that way and neither do I.
According to sources, when healthy Lawrence Timmons is the starting linebacker and not under any circumstances will Fox overtake Timmons for his starting role.
Timmons is a dynamic player and the staff believes he makes the Steelers defense much more dangerous and gives them more options when he is on the field.
Prior to his injury, Timmons was playing his best football of the year, having a breakout game against Cleveland recording 2 sacks and was on his way to another breakout game against Minnesota recording 7 tackles in just over 2 quarters of work.
Keyaron Fox has proven to be Kevin Colberts most under-rated signing the past couple seasons and Fox is showing that he could be starting for a number of teams around the league.
When healthy though Timmons is the Steelers guy.
Inside the numbers
*Running back Rashard Mendenhall ranks second in the NFL in yards per rushing attempt (5.7). Titans running back Chris Johnson is 1st in the NFL, averaging 6.7 yards per attempt. Mendenhall was drafted 23rd overall in the 2008 draft while Johnson was drafted one spot behind him at #24.
*Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is tied for first in the NFL with a 70.6 completion percentage. Roethlisberger also ranks first in yards per attempt (8.8).
Roethlsiberger is 5th in passing yards (2,295) and is only three touchdowns (14) behind Drew Brees for the NFL lead (17).
With Cleveland, Oakland, and Kansas City remaining on the schedule along with only one opponent with a winning record, Roethlisberger has a shot beating his career best in touchdown passes (32, 2007).
AFC North Update
*Cleveland Browns quarterback Brady Quinn is getting his second chance. Now that his 10 million + bonus is out of the picture since he won’t play 70% of the snaps, Quinn has been named the Browns starter against the Baltimore Ravens Monday night.
The Browns did place linebacker Eric Barton (neck) on injured reserve yesterday, ending his 2009 season.
*The Cincinnati Bengals are contenders in the AFC because of many factors but the biggest reason is that they have a dominant running game. Cedric Benson is second in the NFL with 837 rushing yards.
What to watch for is whether Benson breaks down later in the season. Benson leads the NFL with 198 rushing attempts and Benson has never been a full time starter until this year.

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About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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