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Williams becomes latest backup to start

| Friday, Oct. 22, 2004

Next.

That's been a familiar mantra around the Steelers' South Side practice facility as injuries have continued to mount this season.

The next backup-turned-starter will be veteran Willie Williams, who'll take over for Chad Scott at cornerback, when the Steelers host the New England Patriots on Oct. 31.

"I'm just going to step up," Williams said. "The next guy has to be ready to play, whoever's out there. Injuries happen in the NFL every year. The next guy has to be ready to play.

"I've been around for a long time. You see it every year, key guys can go down and the next guy has to be ready to play. It happened to me; I've been there and done that. You're one play away from being out there."

Williams, 33, has started 104 of 173 career games but hasn't been an NFL regular since starting 12 games and appearing in 15 with Seattle in 2002.

He first assumed a starting role as a third-year pro with the Steelers in 1995 after cornerback Deon Figures sustained a gunshot wound in the offseason. The Steelers also lost starting cornerback Rod Woodson (knee) that season.

Williams wound up leading the AFC and finishing third in the NFL with seven interceptions.

The Steelers estimate Scott will be lost for 4-to-6 weeks with a quadriceps-tendon tear.

"Chad Scott's one of our leaders," Williams said. "We're going to miss him."

Williams intends to fill in for Scott in that capacity, as well.

"I'm here to be a leader and to help these young guys out, show them how the game is played and get them ready to take that next step, to go out there and help this team and make some plays," he said.

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