Steelers linebacker Vince Williams could have been Dante from the cult classic "Clerks." After a missed tackle, or a blown assignment, he could have whined "I wasn't even supposed to be here today!"
Williams, in some respects, was considered a slight surprise when he made the 53-man roster last year, and absolutely was not considered to be a viable starting option his rookie year. That was further bolstered by the fact he didn't even dress for the team's Week 1 game - a loss to Tennessee, the first Steelers' home-opening loss in a decade.
Larry Foote went down, Williams would eventually beat out Kion Wilson - barely any more experienced than Williams was - and retain the team's starting position for the majority of the year. In that, he also became the answer to a deep trivia question - What Steelers player had the most starts for Dick LeBeau as a rookie?
He topped first-round pick Jarvis Jones 11-8 in that category.
Still, good for a rookie isn't satisfying Williams any more than it appeared it satisfied the Steelers, who drafted Ryan Shazier with the 15th overall pick in the 2014 draft. Williams spoke with Post Gazette reporter Ray Fittipaldo recently about the experience he gained.
"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."
Fittipaldo also noted Williams has watched every play he was in on from the 2013 season in an effort to learn from his mistakes. While those mistakes can't be used as the main reason why Williams is on the outside looking in for a starting job, the simple fact of the NFL is depth is synonymous with winning. The Steelers have lacked depth, as they showed last season with Foote's injury. Now, if Shazier does win the starting job, the Steelers will have three inside linebackers with starting experience.
Maybe that back-up and special teams contributory role is more of what Williams is meant to do, but the idea he isn't supposed to be on the field is flat-out false now. The experience will serve both himself, and the Steelers, well in 2014.