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Colbert Says Williams Really Solidified The Inside Spot Last Season

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.

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • steeltown

    I think he played well for a rookie taking over the BUCK. I’ll be rooting for this kid to improve upon his rookie season and truly solidify the position. I think he can.

  • 243546

    I have no problem with Williams as the starter in the base defense. He’s a thumper, which is what you want at the Buck in base 3-4. Is he the guy you want out there playing man coverage against a TE lined up in the slot? Probably not, but he shouldn’t be put in that situation in base D, so it’s not an issue. That’s what sub-packages are for. As long as he can defend the pass in zone coverage, that’s good enough for me.

    The range of skills needed at the Buck position make it difficult to find someone who can play all 3 downs. How many LB’s are there with the size to holdup as a strong side run defender, but also have the speed and agility to play in man coverage? I feel it’s better to split the duties up between a true Buck LB who can play in base D, and a hybrid S/LB type who is a better pass defender, who can play in sub-packages.

  • 243546

    Same here. I really don’t see ILB as a need. Williams is a perfect fit in base D. I realize there’s no guarantee, but if Spence can play this year, then he’s the guy that can sub in for Williams in sub-packages. Shamarko is also a someone who can come in as a third safety. If the team manages to sign Worilds, without cutting Woodley, I wouldn’t rule out seeing Jarvis Jones seeing time at ILB in sub-packages.

  • steeltown

    He should only get better with a year under his belt and another full offseason of training

  • Shannon Stephenson

    They say the biggest jump for a player is from year 1 to year 2 so I would expect to see a noticeable improvement.

  • 243546

    Absolutely. He put in a lot of work before his rookie season to get faster, and it showed. No reason to doubt his commitment in that department. He needs to improve his recognition, which is going to come from spending time on the field, and in the film room.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I guess the question would be is Colbert saying we are good at ILB or not. I feel Williams has shown enough where we do not need to draft an early ILB but is that also the feelings of the Steelers. From what Colbert said it seems like it but you never know.


    Honestly I think a ILB early would be a waste as they would have the same learning curve that Williams has already experienced…duplicating efforts if you will. Depth is the main issue I see… a later pick from a competition standpoint is never a bad thing.

  • dgh57

    If I’m not mistaken V. Williams was a team captain at Florida State and was calling plays way back in the OTAs which tells me he’s a smart kid that is a quick learner. Throw in there that he trains with Tom Shaw shows me from a physical standpoint he’s willing to put the work in to improve and get better. The last thing he needs is the snaps to put all that on the field and to get experience and he got 405 of those last season so he’s ahead of schedule there. Time and patience is all that’s needed with Williams as I see upside with him.

  • Super Dave

    Why can’t Timmons play Buck?

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Now I’m really getting interested in what they do, because I have been of the mind that V. Williams has greatly excelled for a rookie at that position. And, yes, he was calling the plays early. How about that? Now, whether they want him to bulk up or trim down to get faster, I don;t know. I still think He plays more against teams that run more or 1st downs for example. Then, he platoons with a Spence, or whomever they choose. Also, they play sub packages so often that there is no need to attempt to draft a stud in the higher rounds at ILB.

    Thank you. I am loving this logic as he gets a chance to improve and we also get to see this year if Spence will be able to contribute. They will wait until later rounds or even next year to address this, because if they get REALLY lucky, they may not have to address it at all.

  • Douglas Andrews

    I see V Williams taking the next step to improve his game this year. I see him playing faster with the experience of this past season which i’m thinking will translate to more tackles and hopefully more TFL. Only obstacle for him will be staying on the field for 3 downs. If he can show pass coverage skills I think he’ll be a solid starter.

  • Lamarr56

    I think a combo of Williams and Spence could be great. Having Williams on running downs and Spence on passing downs I think would be a killer combo.

  • steeltown

    Personally I’d wait another year, see if Williams improves and see if Spence can actually return and contribute. If neither of the aforementioned happens then I’d focus on ILB in the 2015 draft

  • Eric MacLaurin

    The problem is that with all of the no huddle defenses you need versatile players. Teams will be able to trap Williams on the field for too many passes.

  • cencalsteeler

    The unfortunate thing with Colbert talking to the media around draft time is we can’t take his words as concrete information. I look at these coachs and gms as poker players at this stage of the game. He might be throwing the bone out that he’s content with Williams and he’s not looking for an ilb, but in reality he’s hoping to land Mack if he plays his cards right.
    With that said though, I personally am happy with Williams and feel this guy has a lot of potential and upside to him.

  • cencalsteeler


  • shawn

    i think thats the perfect path … at the very least we know he is a quality back up … but we should know a lot more at the end of next season as to whether he is our future starter

  • Jollyrob68

    They can always draft some one in the later rounds that can play inside or out Like Max Bullough

  • Jollyrob68

    Agreed because Williams & Garvin Got better at the position. Now if CJ Mosley can also play outside lb then it’s not a wasted pick. However we can grab Max Bullough or Telvin Smith in the later rounds.

  • Jollyrob68

    Don’t forget Garvin he was a better coverage ILB. He needs to get better at the run and adding some weight will help him. Not counting on Spence but whatever we get from him is gravy.


    Smith I’m familiar with…keep an eye for Joey Porter’s pupil…Shaq Barrett…not invited to the combine but his stat line says…”player”… I would use one of the comp picks on him


    CJ…I’m not that high on him, really not many of the Bama defenders in this draft excite me…they could very well be just as talented as their predecessors, but they didn’t show it on the field…Bama got pushed around more on DEF than people realized this year.

  • 243546

    Only if the DC has the wrong personnel group when the offense goes into no huddle. The offense can’t put more than 5 receiving options on the field at a time. When that happens, the defense isn’t going to be playing with their base personnel, which means Williams wouldn’t be on the field. Any time the offense is playing with 4 receiving options or less, then Williams can’t be forced into coverage, even in base D. If the defense needs to cover 4 in base, then the 2 CB’s and a S will be playing in man coverage, and Timmons would pick up the additional receiver, instead of Williams.

  • Iron Cadet

    So no cj mosely?

  • LayDownTheHammer

    I agree and with postings as well – ILB is a lower need than OLB for example. Let’s see what he has done between rookie-soph first.

  • dgh57

    Thanks! Betcha couldn’t tell I’m high on V. Williams potential from my post!

  • steelster

    I would like to see the steelers sign Donald butler from the chargers. He can play all 3 downs and is only 25. This way if JJ or worilds doesn’t play well next year we can slide Timmons to the outside and play butler and Williams on the inside.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    You only have the wrong personnel group if you have players that can’t play all three downs. If the other team has more versatile players they won’t have to switch and we’ll be at a disadvantage. That’s the whole point.

  • steelster

    bingo eric and that is what teams did to him

  • Matt Manzo

    As glad as I am that he’s “solidified” it, I would feel more comfortable with a Kiko Alonzo type to back him up and groom for Timmons spot.

  • 243546

    Williams can play all three downs, but he’s not going to bring the level of pass defense you want to see on passing downs. Just like the guys who can defend the pass well, don’t defend the run as well as a 250 lb BUCK LB. If you want to keep the same player in the entire game, one way or the other, there’s a trade off. I’ve yet to see an ILB who can take on a pulling Guard, and has the ability to run with a TE in man coverage.

  • Wes C. Addle

    Let’s hope that Spence can come back strong and hopefully get mixed in with Williams!

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I could play all 3 downs if you don’t need to have the best possible player on the field for every play. He doesn’t have an ideal skill set for third down and quite frankly, this is now a passing league. We can’t pretend that stopping the run and making them beat us in the air is a viable strategy.

    I would also prefer a smaller player that struggles one on one vs the guard but who can keep up with a TE.

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