Steelers LB Williams more confident after being 'terrified' as rookie at camp
Vince Williams once again is fighting through Steelers camp, but the fight is different.
As an unheralded sixth-round draft pick out of Florida State in 2013, Williams was no lock to make the roster. The inside linebacker spent late nights buried in his playbook last summer, hoping his stay at St. Vincent wouldn't come to an abrupt end.
“I didn't know anything all the way up until the last cuts. I was sitting there nervous till I found out I made the team,” Williams said. “There was never a level of complacency ever. I didn't let it settle in until later in the season.”
That's partly because the start to Williams' rookie season didn't offer any downtime. Larry Foote went on injured reserve with a torn biceps following the season opener and replacement Kion Wilson struggled out of the gate. By Week 4, Williams had notched his first NFL start.
“I wasn't really thinking about trying to start or hone in on my abilities,” Williams said. “So when Larry Foote went down, I wasn't really ready to step into that role.”
In 15 games — 11 of them starts — last season, Williams was frequently overmatched, so the Steelers sought help at the inside linebacker position. They signed Arthur Moats — who now lines up at outside linebacker — in March and drafted Ryan Shazier two months later to again fill the hole, and Williams was out of a starting job.
Williams mostly has been featured alongside Sean Spence in the second-team defense, but he has let his shoulder pads do most of his talking through the first two weeks of camp.
He has not been shy about laying big hits and engaged in a brawl with running back Le'Veon Bell during a backs-on-backers drill Friday night.
“Vince is one of those guys. He has that distinguishing characteristic,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “It's a good thing to build the rest of his game around. When you snap the ball, he's ready to play.”
Williams said the new-found intensity is self-driven.
“The front office is the front office, and they're going to take care of business the way they want to take care of business,” Williams said. “You can't really get in a rat race or focus on what everybody else is doing or, you know, I wouldn't end up being here. All I can do is continue to be the best Vince Williams I can be.”
That best likely will involve serving as a role player in the Steelers linebacker corps as well as earning his keep as a playmaker on special teams. But he said he will do so knowing he has the ability to compete as a professional.
“Last year (at camp) I would make a bad play, and I was terrified,” Williams said. “This year I'm more confident in what I'm doing. I'm not scared to where I'm like, ‘That's going to be the one that gets me cut.' ”
Andrew Erickson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- NFL coaches weigh in on Polamalu’s legacy
- Steelers notebook: Harrison return complicated by LeBeau, Titans
- Steelers notebook: Team seek ease on West Coast travel
- Steelers notebook: Safety Mitchell could move to replace Polamalu
- Tomlin eyes Steelers’ return to defensive success this season
- Steelers re-sign WR Heyward-Bey to 1-year deal
- Ex-Steeler Worilds makes ‘faith-based’ decision to move on from football
- Steelers notebook: Haley sees role for Archer