Mike Tomlin Says Rookie LB Vince Williams Is A Natural Communicator

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.

Vince Williams

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.

  • Hodge175

    I think if you watch the tape you will see when contact was made there was a DB running up towards the pile, then stopped. If the DB would have not stopped and helped by lowering his shoulder Bush may have been stopped

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Tomlin likes to play these games….pick a guy and get behind him. I hate this shuffling.

  • MC

    Apart from the TD run, i think Vince Williams did a decent job Sunday. I was looking for him quite a bit throughout the game. I saw him clog the middle of the line of scrimmage a few times nicely. On the play Jarvis Jones made the tackle from the backside, Vince Williams simultaneously filled the gap the RB was going to. A few of the good plays he made was a little hard to see cause it was amongst a lot of traffic but i think he did his job for the most part.

    He was actually a draft crush of mine leading up to April and i had a feeling he would find a place on this team, looking forward to seeing him improve especially since i had him at round 6 in my mock!

  • gene mann

    I think Vance will be good once he gets more reps. But we need to stick with a lineup an go from there

  • MC

    Especially if the season really starts to go south, might as well give reps to the future of the team.

  • Mike Carroll

    What’s the rush? I think Tomlin is handling this position just fine. Better to get good looks at both and ease the eventual starter into the role.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Hey Mike Tomlin, I’d rather have a natural born killer playing linebacker you can have your “communicator” thank you very much. Vince Williams has potential but but his play thus far is meh. Looks timid on alot of tackles to me, seems hesitant at times to really stick his nose in there, hence he doesn’t “bring his feet”. His play (effort?) should emulate his fellow draft classmate Shamarko, this guy, now THIS GUY BRINGS HIS FEET.

  • VaDave

    And a whole lot more. I agree with your assesment of Williams to date, but he’s going t be a good one. Just needs a little time in the saddle.

  • Impact3697

    If you read any of the draft profiles on Vince Williams, you hear how physical he is, and how he excels at taking on lead blocks. He may have struggled a bit so far with this, it is his first pro action. Give him some time and this guy will be more of a killer than anyone we’ve had at inside backer for a while

  • Christopher Wilkes

    Ehh, Bush is a big guy, but I think Williams coulda stopped him on the play. He just missed him. On the play, Timmons laid a nasty hit on Bush, and the ball actually popped loose for a second, so I think Williams just misjudged or mistimed his hit. Oh well, I think he had a good game overall.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    Because Wilson sucks. He’s much more of a liability out there. At least that’s how I see it.

  • Bob Loblaw

    And Williams has been getting more snaps as a result, I don’t see the problem. It’s not like you write Wilson off after one game.

  • srdan

    The kid is a leader. We desperately need a leader out there even at a price of some plays. The situation is what it is, it’s not like we are sitting Urlacher to let 98 get reps. Even if Keon is better, it’s marginal. I personally think Vince is a budding star. Let him get his reps, the ILB position has quickly turned over as has most of our defense into suitable young players. With more reps, our D has potential late this year, and definitely next to be dominant. Starting this many new faces and being put in the positions they have been in, I think our unit is once again one of the best in the AFC.

  • steeltown

    Nice problem to have… two backups that can step in and play BUCK.. yes, there are some growing pains with younger players, but man I keep thinking about the days of Sylvestor and Brandon Johnson and I have to smile

  • Ahmad

    The Steelers could have had a great goal line stand had Williams wrapped up on Bush. Instead it’s a TD. Outside of that gaffe, I thought he did very well.

  • charles

    Williams will be better than Ray Lewis. Because he is smarter. The season is still young….

  • PA2AK

    I think this is the very first example of Tomlin handling a position correctly this year. Gave quality snaps to both candidates in the first game they both dressed. Since then, it has been heavily favored to Williams. Hard to just give a rookie the spot. I think Jones needs to take over now completely. Dwyer is clearly the most well rounded and capable back (outside of the unproven Bell), even though we knew this during training camp. The tackle rotation on sunday was a joke. Gilbert needs to head over to LT and Adams to RT…even if Gilbert is still soft at L…Adams is much better at R.

  • PA2AK

    ‘natural born killer’? Are you saying Kion Wilson is THAT guy?! Williams looks like the best bet. I saw mental mistakes that come with rookie jitters. He made some real nice plays and brings some intensity. There isn’t much that I saw that would tell me he isn’t a naturally intense hitter. In fact, Keith Butler thinks exactly that. Timmons on the other hand has also had a few bad ‘fills’…he’s excellent, don’t get me wrong, but he also has a tendency to fill late or not fill the hole squarely. Williams is going to progress quickly and should be a great addition to the LB corps.

  • PA2AK

    don’t forget…could have been a goal line stand if Timmons wrapped and wasn’t playing on his stomach too! not making an excuse for Williams as he certainly should have been there for the tackle, but even out best LB has errors. I agree…this kid is a bright spot

  • PA2AK

    This kid is playing lights out for a rookie without even a full game at the position. Need to give him the keys. This was a mistake, he should have cleaned up for Timmons’ missed tackle. The D was in great position on this play. Timmons had a one-on-one opportunity and lost. Williams had the next opportunity and lost. I’d say kudos to Bush on the play. Williams need to be full time starter there. He and Timmons will really bring some speed and tenacity to the ILB positions. I’ll miss Foote like I did Farrior, but neither of those guys play with the natural intensity that Williams does. Give him some time!

  • Bob Loblaw

    I think what he’s done with Jones has been handled well. Jones has been getting a greater number of snaps each week, and his play has warranted that. I’m fine with with Worilds still getting some reps as our defense has been on the field a lot and resting players, so long as Jones keeps getting the bulk of the reps (and showing he deserves them).

    As to the tackle situation, I’ve got no idea how anyone fixes that. It’s not like the coaches can keep the two after practice.

  • PA2AK

    I just think Jones needs to get a spell here and there, but by bulk…i’m looking for ‘all of them except when he needs a breather’.
    The tackle situation is being misjudged. Tomlin pulls Gilbert in a game that he actually looked a lot better than he has. He’s better at left than he is right, and Adams is clearly awful at left, but solid on the right. I don’t know why they made the change in the preseason, but it needs to go back. Also…bringing in Beachum is clearly not the answer. He’s a great interior/TE back-up…NOT a tackle. I like that kid, but he just shouldn’t be in that position.
    I think the only other thing they can do is start calling/designing some plays that take pressure off your young OL. The Bears are doing that with their young OL..quick plays. no slow-developing garbage. no master-mind plays…just straightforward, we’re going to succeed because we’re better than you stuff.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    It’s not about rush it’s about team chemistry which we lack greatly…look at the offensive line

  • Steeler Goetz

    I’m a HUGE Florida State fan, so you know there’s no bias here. If you watch that play from behind the defense, Timmons slams Bush square and he actually jolts him backwards, at that same instant, however, Williams comes over Timmons’ back, knocking him off Bush, who then piles forward for the score. Both guys are from FSU, and they’re both Steelers, so I love ’em both, but Williams showed himself to be a rookie on that play.