Vince Williams, the Steelers sixth round draft pick this year, has seen more snaps than most would have anticipated he would prior to the injury of Larry Foote. While he is still sharing snaps with Kion Wilson at the "buck" middle linebacker spot on the Steelers' defense, teammates and coaches are noticing his quick improvements to fulfill his duties.
Coach Tomlin notes that he's been impressed by Williams, most specifically because of his ability to communicate effectively and timely within the defense.
""I think he's winning the confidence of the veteran defenders from that standpoint," Tomlin said. "Obviously, there is a lot of communication that comes with that job and he's done a nice job at that."
The Steelers' head coach would go on to comment that all appearances suggest that Williams may just be a natural fit for what they're looking for in the position next to Lawrence Timmons. A player whom has also been impressed by Williams' rookie performance so far.
Timmons specifically likes the way Williams is fitting in during running plays and making tackles. But what has most impressed him was that as a rookie, he has been able to take on the role of relaying the defensive assignments to the unit. After Larry Foote was lost for the season, the coaching staff initially thought Timmons should be the one who took the headset helmet gear and called the plays; that decision has since changed to give Williams the duties.
Timmons was a first round draft pick for the Steelers in 2007 and it took him three years to earn a consistent starting spot on the roster. He has definitely taken notice of Williams' ability to step up to the plate as a rookie and become an effective communicator for the defense in pre-snap adjustments.
Tomlin noted that although Williams was impressing his teammates and the coaching staff, the team will still continue to rotate him and Kion Wilson at the position. Wilson got the start against Chicago, but Williams saw more snaps. The Steelers rookie will still be sharing playing time with Wilson, but Tomlin indicates that will only be the case until either player distinguishes himself as the best available overall, rather than just providing certain advantages.
Williams talks about his ability to adapt to the faster paced speed of the NFL and that he's growing more comfortable with making the quick adjustments and pre-snap communications across the board. But he also knows that he has to get better. He's missed a few tackles, and the one that disappoints him most was the opportunity to stop Michael Bush on a 4th and goal situation against the Chicago Bears last week.
"The standard is the standard around here," Williams said. "I don't really feel like I want to be doing good for a rookie. I feel like I want to do good for a professional football player, so I hold myself to a higher standard. I feel like it was an OK game, but I really want to do better."
Look for who's getting more snaps between Williams and Wilson this Sunday in London when the Steelers take on the Minnesota Vikings. How both players do on the field will yield itself to who the coaching staff might lean toward as the season continues. The fact that Williams has been able to become acquainted enough with Dick LeBeau's defense to the point where he's relaying all the calls and adjustments to the unit on the field, is a positive factor not often seen from a rookie in a Steelers' defense.
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