| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Steelers LB Williams more confident after being 'terrified' as rookie at camp

Steelers/NFL Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Steelers linebacker Vince Williams lines up for a play during practice Saturday, Aug. 1, 2014 at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Andrew Erickson
Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, 9:27 p.m.

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

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Steelers

  1. Inside the Steelers: Williams’ quickness out of backfield evident in drills
  2. Starkey: Garoppolo baffles Steelers
  3. Tight ends’ role in Steelers passing game continues to lessen but players remain selfless
  4. Steelers notebook: LB Dupree sits out backs-on–backers drill
  5. Steelers unfazed by Patriots quarterback Brady suspension saga
  6. Steelers’ Wheaton adjusting his game moving to slot receiver
  7. Steelers LB Timmons has grown into leadership role on defense
  8. Steelers’ offense outshines defense like never before
  9. Steelers RB Archer trying to catch up after tough rookie season
  10. Inside the Steelers: Ventrone suffers right ankle injury
  11. Steelers’ Brown arrives in style, vows to be ‘the best in the world’