LeBeau Waiting For Wilson Or Williams To Take The Full-Time Buck Job

Inside linebackers Vince Williams and Kion Wilson were by no means perfect Monday night as they filled in for the injured Larry Foote, who was lost for the year in the season opener, but both will continue to split playing time on defense Sunday night against the Chicago Bears.

“Both of those players are key players on special teams and I think they’re both going to have to play some scrimmage downs,” defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said Thursday after practice.

Wilson started the game at the buck linebacker spot alongside Lawrence Timmons, but is was Williams, who the Steelers drafted in the sixth-round last April, that played the majority of the snaps. Until one outplays the other, however, we can likely see a rotation of sorts used for quite a while.

“They’re young players and they’re getting some on-the-job training,” said LeBeau. “I think they’re both pretty equal players right now. If one of them shows up and they want the full-time job, I’m sure that’s what Coach Tomlin will do.”

In the loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Williams was on the field for the touchdown run by Giovani Bernard while Wilson was the buck when Bernard scored from 27 yards out on a short pass. While LeBeau didn’t single either out on Thursday, he did say there might have been a few miscommunications in the game as both the young linebackers were in charge of relaying the defensive calls when on the field.

“We had a couple breakdowns that were very costly and we have to be 100% in that area,” LeBeau said.

On the touchdown reception by Bernard, Wilson reportedly missed making a change that would have resulted in outside linebacker Jason Worilds dropping into coverage instead of rushing the quarterback.

As you can see in the gif below, there was nobody close to Bernard when he caught the dump off and once Wilson slipped making his break forward, that’s all the speedy running back needed to gain the edge.

These young linebackers will continue to make a few mistakes along the way, but at least they play a Bears team Sunday night that runs an offense somewhat similar to the one the Bengals run. Once they clear up the miscommunication problems, hopefully the breakdowns will clear up as well.

Steelers Bengals Bernard TD

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Coin flip at this point.


    this is undoubtedly the best way for them to both improve, can’t beat on the job training…I suspect by the break we will have a winner, at the moment it’s even

  • Oscar

    Why cant Timmons call the defense?

  • JB

    I thought that Timmons was supposed to take over calling the defense? He’s supposed to be a star – are you telling me that our stud ILB making millions is not capable of performing this task??? What about the safeties? they can’t make the calls? other vets? no, put it in the hands of two rotating rookies (I know Wilson technically isn’t a rookie, but he is with this defense). This is another questionable coaching decision that really has me losing faith in the entire staff. All summer – zone blocking was supposed to get the running game going. Two games in and they’ve used it less than half a dozen times – i think i read that it might have been only once – and guess what; the run game is worse than awful. Use Beachum as a TE to boost the run game, ok – where was he last week? then there is the end around with Cotchery…and several other head scratchers. I have been defending Haley based on the offense and Ben’s performances up until the injury last year, but after what i’ve seen in the past two games, I can’t really defend any member of the staff.

  • steeltown

    Damn.. I noticed he slipped in game on that play, but didn’t realize he messed up the play call as well, two mistakes on the same play. Regardless, im happy to have both of these guys. We’re lucky to have some young potential after last year where Foote and Timmons played every game

  • steeltown

    I thought he was going to.. I guess they want these young guys to step up and truly learn the position

  • srdan

    This could be a blessing in disguise. We’re all quick to point out negatives (lack of turnovers, YAC) but one major positive we are overlooking is the age of our defense. We have quickly gotten younger. Younger is a good thing as long as you can keep a level of play. Which overall I think we have not lost much on our defense. We have kept two decent offenses under 20 pts even with the turnovers by our offense. Don’t overlook that! Two years ago we were looking at a very old defense that tired easily in the fourth. That is no longer an issue. Now we just need to teach them how to be in position to make plays. There have been way too many balls that were deflected into the air to only hit the ground.

    Sean Spence’s return is not as critical anymore. He can now take his time. Update?? Anyone??

    I do have to admit seeing a skinny 98 running around the line of scrimmage is hilarious. I have gotten used to that number being stretched to its limits (horizontally).

  • Ahmad

    They were trusting a rookie to make the calls so of course there was miscommunication. Why wasn’t Timmons calling the defense?

  • charles

    I am glad LeBeau was FORCED to play some rookies. I expect that even given a dismal season, one or both will make a game changing play. If it is in our favor, that is the draft class production that takes teams to the playoffs or better. Looking for Thomas to make a splash too.

  • Chad H

    Ditto everything you said. Tomlin now has to show why he is a head coach. He can no longer ride the high of the Cowher era. Two games into the season and we see blunders. Lots of head scratching. Lots of players running their mouths. Time to grab the bull by the horns Mike!
    On the bright side Williams I believe will develop into a nice ILB.


    Nail on the head there. I have said exactly the same thing. I can’t find ANY reason to continue to defend Haley at this point. Can anyone?

  • steeltown

    I’m close to jumping off the Haley wagon..

  • steeltown

    The other good thing is these kids will have extended in-game experience entering next season, guys like Jarvis, Shamarko and V.Williams will go into year two with much needed game readiness

  • Luke Shabro

    This is such nonsense. If I hear one more person talk about how Mike Tomlin is riding the high of the Cowher era I’m gonna lose it. Put the crackpipe down….

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Why will he develop into a nice ILB? I don’t see anything to suggest he will…and just a few clips to suggest he won’t. Wishful thinking?

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Wilson slipped, Ike slipped, Thomas slipped…I think there was another slip. Dudes, wear the correct cleats.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Partly true. Now we have a younger defense that tires in the fourth.

  • Steve

    And this is where I wish we had Sean Spence… Prob not going to get him back until next year.

  • steeltown

    Spence isn’t a BUCK LB

  • Mike Sweeney

    JUMP I did.

  • srdan

    Thank you for your baseless pessimism.

    Our defense is playing enough snaps for 1.3 games every time they took the field.

  • Chad H

    Tomlin was riding high on the Cowher era!
    21 year Air Force vet……sorry no drugs here.
    Remember we are all stating our opinions.

  • Henry

    Why the hell can’t Lawrence Timmons in his 7th year in this defense relay the calls?

  • skeptic2525

    If Dick LeBeau, the undisputed defensive genius of his era thinks these guys are capable of relaying the calls, then I feel confident that must be the best way to do it.

  • cencalsteeler

    It looks to me like Dalton had two options, Bernard or Eifert on that gif.

  • Fivesevenzero Sports-Radio

    Where’s Sean Spence when you need him?!? He called the defense all 4 years at Miami! SMH I wish he never got hurt

  • walter mason

    I never got on.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    Seriously. This makes no sense at all. I put both those mistakes on the coaches then. You can’t expect a rookie and a first year player to be mentally flawless.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    True dat! But, it’s still a bit of a head scratcher lol.