While he has yet to start a game, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie inside linebacker Vince Williams is slowly starting to separate himself from Kion Wilson at the buck linebacker position.
Tuesday, during his weekly press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin talked about the job the Steelers sixth-round draft pick has done so far as the team now prepares to take on the Minnesota Vikings Sunday in London.
“Vince is doing a nice job not only in play, but communication and communicating in a timely and an appropriate way,” Tomlin said. “I think he’s winning the confidence of the veteran defenders from that standpoint. Obviously, there’s a lot of communication that comes with that job and he’s done a nice job of that and appears to be a natural.”
Williams has played 35 more snaps than Wilson up until this point and was on the field for every second half non sub package snap Sunday night in the loss to the Chicago Bears. He finished that game with four total tackles and outside of not bringing his feet with him on an attempted tackle of Bears running back Michael Bush that resulted in a one-yard touchdown late in the first quarter, he played well.
Once veteran Larry Foote was lost for the season, the original plan moving forward called for mack linebacker Lawrence Timmons to wear the communications helmet and make the defensive calls. That plan, however, was scrapped as both Williams and Wilson were both given that responsibility instead.
“We want to minimize the amount of responsibility that we put on Lawrence, because we need him to play great football,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “We’ve got other guys that have worked over the course of the preseason in preparation for it. Guys like Kion and guys like Vince who have been doing that since day one that they’ve gotten here and they’ve proven to be capable in that regard.”
While Williams might be a natural, there is no guarantee he starts Sunday against the Vikings as the team is likely to continue to use some sort of rotation moving forward.
“We’ll continue to play he and Kion in an effort to get the best out of both until we get some clarity in terms of who’s the guy that’s going to rise up and seize that spot,” Tomlin said Tuesday.
At the rate things are going, Williams very well could seize that spot while the team is in London if he has a good game against the Vikings.