A few weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers were hoping rookie linebacker Vince Williams would start to separate himself from Kion Wilson at the buck inside linebacker position and according to head coach Mike Tomlin on Tuesday, that separation has now taken place.
"He's been solid not only in performance, but in communication," said Tomlin about Williams. "I like some of things that he's done. Obviously, he's a young player and is one that's going to grow with reps. We look forward to him doing that and he needs to do it, and do it in a hurry. But arrow pointed up in terms of his performance and the intangible things that he's brought to the position thus far."
Williams made his first start of the 2013 season against the Minnesota Vikings in week four while Wilson failed to play a snap on defense for the first time all season. Now that Wilson has a hamstring injury, he will be lucky to see any playing time moving forward even though Tomlin didn't rule it out during his press conference.
Tomlin's praise of Williams did not end with his press conference, either, as he also talked highly of the Florida State product during his weekly interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio shortly thereafter.
"We like the continued evolution of Vince Williams and the role that he's playing at inside linebacker," said Tomlin. "It's been several weeks now, there. He's getting comfortable not only playing, but communicating. I think all of those things have been positives and comfortable for us from a staff standpoint."
According to the stats the Steelers keep, Williams is fourth on the team in tackles with 22. He has missed three tackles so far this season, according to Pro Football Focus, who graded his week four play against the run as way below the line.
The Steelers were certainly hoping they could ease Williams into the defense this year, but after losing Larry Foote for the season in the opener, they had no choice but to throw Williams into the fire. The experience that he will gain this season is invaluable, but he is sure to have more uneven play moving forward through his rookie season as a result.