Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Vince Williams certainly had some big shoes to fill during his rookie season when asked to take over the starting buck linebacker spot a few games after veteran Larry Foote was lost for the season. Despite an uneven year of learning on the job, however, general manager Kevin Colbert thought he represented himself well.
“Vince Williams ended up moving into our starting lineup – you know we lost Larry Foote earlier,” Colbert said Thursday afternoon in an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, when asked if any young players caught his eye in last season. “We had a couple other guys cycle through, but Vince is the one that really solidified spot. And when I say solidify, it’s such a hub of communications inside, Vince showed that he was able to do that and he played pretty good for a rookie sixth-round pick. So we’re hoping that he can make another stride.”
In 405 defensive snaps played last season, Williams registered 53 total tackles. Of those, 39 were run play tackles and 18 of them came within 2 yards of the line of scrimmage. Moving forward, he needs a higher percentage of them and also still needs to prove he can stay on the field on third downs, which will be asking a lot.
After a rough first half of the season, Williams appeared to get more comfortable in the defense alongside Lawrence Timmons and while he still had his warts, he did play noticeably better against the run as the second half of the season wore on.
Williams will reportedly again train under the watchful eye of renowned trainer Tom Shaw during the offseason and will be forced to win the starting job again in training camp. At worst, the Florida State product should make the 2014 team as a backup and special teams contributor if he doesn’t make the necessary stride that Colbert and the coaching staff is looking for.