Ryan Shazier put into position for fast start

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Steelers inside linebackers Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier were selected in the same draft slot seven years apart. Timmons was the No. 15 overall selection in the 2007 draft and Shazier was the No. 15 choice this year.

But the similarities stop when it comes to how they have been introduced into the Steelers defense. Timmons had to wait until his third year to nail down a starting position while Shazier is being given the opportunity to start right away.

"We were a totally different ballclub then," Timmons said of when he broke into the league. "It's obviously worked out for me. But he's blessed to be in a circumstance where he can start early for a great franchise. That's beautiful."

Timmons started two games in his first two seasons while playing behind established starters James Farrior and Larry Foote. In 2008, Timmons' second season, the Steelers won the Super Bowl with a top-ranked defense.

Shazier comes into a defense desperate for his speed and playmaking ability after it fell to the middle of the pack in the statistical rankings.

Shazier worked with the No. 1 defense in the first practice of training camp Saturday afternoon. Timmons expects Shazier to perform well, but he knows from experience how difficult it can be to step into the complicated defensive scheme coordinator Dick LeBeau uses.

"Coming into this system and trying to play early is very, very tough," Timmons said. "Since I've been here, no one has really done that, play early and start. The coaches all have faith in him. I'm excited to see him do it on the field."

Shazier, from Ohio State, said he likes having the pressure to succeed immediately. .

"I really like expectations and pressure because I feel like it can make me perform better," he said. "The more pressure on you, the more people expect out of you, and I feel like I do better when I have pressure on me."

The first two practices are without pads. Monday, Shazier will get an opportunity to prove he is worth the hype when the Steelers go through their first live practice.

"I'm anxious to get going," Shazier said. "We've been doing a lot of practicing without pads. This game is played with pads on. I'm ready to go out and show people what I can do."

Civil suit annoys Pouncey

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey expressed disappointment that he was named in a civil lawsuit Friday in which the three plaintiffs, including two women, accused him and his twin brother, Mike, of assaulting them.

Police are investigating the incident, but no charges have been filed.

"I'm a man about everything," Pouncey said Saturday before the team's first practice of training camp. "You all know every time I made a mistake I admitted to it. For something like this to happen and have no involvement in it is upsetting and hurtful to me. You know it's on my mind like crazy. Hopefully, it will blow over."

Pouncey said he has no concerns about facing NFL discipline.

"No fear at all," he said. "The only thing that [is bad] about it is I tried to keep a clean nose throughout this process. Having to deal with this, it [hurts]. It truly does."

Pouncey said he went to great lengths to avoid problems at his birthday party. He hired a former police officer to provide security.

"For something like this to happen it's truly unbelievable," he said. "I just want to apologize to any fans that take this the wrong way. You guys all know me and the person I am. For people to say bad things ... . Sometimes, you have to deal with that in life and move on."

Quick hits

Cody Wallace took the first-team reps at left guard in place of Ramon Foster, who is mourning the death of his mother. ... Veteran Will Allen took the first-team reps at free safety in place of Mike Mitchell, who started camp on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list with a groin injury. ... There was one injury on the first day. Reserve center David Snow, who was added to the 53-man roster late last season, injured a foot or ankle early in practice and was being evaluated by doctors and trainers, according to coach Mike Tomlin. ... Wesley Johnson, a rookie fifth-round draft pick from Vanderbilt, took the rest of the second-team reps at center after Snow was injured. ... Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sported a No. 99 Steelers practice jersey in honor of former teammate Brett Keisel, who was not brought back for a 13th season. "That's my boy," Roethlisberger said. "We were suitemates. He's one of my closest friends. He was in my wedding. It was in honor. I miss him."

■ THE STEELERS will again practice at 2:55 p.m. at Saint Vincent College. It will be free and open to the public.

■ ON THE WEB: Look for the daily Steelers Report video from camp at www.post-gazette.com.

Ray Fittipaldo: rfittipaldo@post-gazette.com and Twitter @rayfitt1.


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