Kion Wilson goes from insurance adjuster to special teams stud to starting linebacker

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers LB Kion Wilson won't deliver signals in his first NFL start Monday against the Bengals, but the Steelers will look to move a few players around to cover up Wilson against the high-powered Bengals offense.

Dick LeBeau hasn't started a rookie at his buck inside linebacker position in the nine years he's been the Steelers' defensive coordinator.

It's unclear how many insurance adjusters have started the position, but odds aren't good there have been many.

There was Larry Foote this year and last year. From 2003-11, there was James Farrior. LeBeau came in 2004, and the stability of the Steelers' defense went hand-in-hand with the veteran experience the position has had in that time.

The Steelers will go in a completely opposite direction Monday when they take on Cincinnati. South Florida product and former insurance claims adjuster Kion Wilson will likely be the team's starter opposite Lawrence Timmons.

Not only was Wilson out of football in 2012, he was brought onto the Steelers to play special teams, writes Tribune Review's Mark Kaboly.

Wilson was released, signed to the practice squad then signed to the active roster to play special teams. Sixth round pick Vince Williams made the team to back up at either linebacker position, yet, he wasn't active for the Steelers' Week 1 game. Now, Wilson will most likely be the starter.

Such are the journeys of undrafted and low-drafted players.

While Timmons will make the defensive calls, Wilson will take the role of the buck; the banging-between-the-gaps run-stuffing linebacker in LeBeau's 3-4 defensive alignment. None of that seems right, with all due respect to Wilson.

Considering the Bengals' balance on offense, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Steelers bring three safeties - Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu and Shamarko Thomas onto the field in several instances, likely keeping Polamalu around the line of scrimmage to help keep order and the inexperienced Wilson covered up. Thomas brings good run support in his own right, and he may see some time down at the line.

The Bengals will want to control this game on the ground, waiting for big play opportunities for wide receiver A.J. Green to develop. They'll be likely to attack Wilson in the short passing game as well as test his mettle against the run behind maybe the best all-around offensive line in the AFC North.

It will be a test - one of many - the 0-1 Steelers will need to pass in order to avoid their first 0-2 start since the 2002 season.

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