In the Pittsburgh Steelers 38-31 win this past Sunday over the Green Bay Packers, rookie linebackers Vince Williams and Terence Garvin both saw about equal playing time prior to the latter leaving the game with a knee injury. During his Monday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin gave an up-to-date assessment of each of their skill sets.
“Garvin is an athletic guy that’s capable of running around,” said Tomlin. “He was a hybrid, if you will, in college. He’s probably more inclined to playing in space and so forth, where Vince is a downhill, nine on seven type linebacker. So we’re trying to utilize both guys, because obviously, both skill sets are assets to us in different situations.”
Williams played 16 snaps against the Packers with 14 coming in the base and the other two coming in the Steelers goal-line defense. Garvin, on the other hand, played 13 snaps and all came in the nickel and dime subpackages.
A few weeks ago, I pointed out that we could possibly see Garvin used more as a nickelbacker moving forward and that indeed wound up being the case, as the team still doesn’t trust Williams’ ability to play in space the way they did with Larry Foote.
It will be interesting to see if the Steelers again address the inside linebacker during the draft and if they do, it will likely be because they don’t think that Sean Spence can make back from his knee injury. At this point, both Williams and Garvin are situational players based on down an distance and personnel groupings that offenses use against them and while that’s not the end of the world, I’m sure they would rather an every down player playing alongside Lawrence Timmons.