Pittsburgh Steelers second-year linebacker Vince Williams was thrust into a starting role last season as a rookie after starter Larry Foote went down in the season opener. While he initially got off to a rocky start, the Florida State product improved as the season progressed. That improvement, however, was not enough to prevent the Steelers from spending a first round pick in May on another inside linebacker.
“I’m not really disappointed because I understand there will always be competition here,” Williams said, according to a report by Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Whether it was going to be [Sean] Spence coming back or even [Larry] Foote coming back before he got cut. I always knew there would be competition.”
Currently, Williams is getting snaps with the second-team defense alongside Sean Spence as the aforementioned first-round draft pick, Ryan Shazier, is running alongside Lawrence Timmons on the Steelers first-team. That’s likely how things will stay the rest of the summer.
Williams reportedly has gone back and watched every play he was in on from the 2013 season in an effort to improve in 2014 and he feels the experience he received as a rookie will greatly benefit him heading into his second season.
“It was great,” Williams said. “I could feel it getting better gradually. It gave me a big boost coming into this year. Now I’ve been out there. I’ve had the feel against real NFL competition, so I feel like a lot of things are slowing down now.”
The Steelers inside linebacker position figures to be much deeper than it was last year and it’s hard seeing Williams not make the final 53 man roster. Instead, he should be the primary backup to Timmons at the buck position and big special teams contributor. That’s not bad for a sixth-round pick that several thought might not make the roster last season.