When the Pittsburgh Steelers step on the field against the Cleveland Browns on September 10th, they will feature one new defensive starter, Vince Williams. Any Steelers fan will be able to recall his name, but to the average football fan he is a new face.
Williams, 27 years old, is a prototypical NFL inside linebacker, standing in at 6’1 and weighing 233 pounds. He was drafted by Steelers in 6th round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Florida State and saw action early on in his rookie year, starting 11 games. The following offseason the Steelers selected Ryan Shazier in the 1st round of the 2014 NFL Draft and Williams’ role on the team for the next 3 seasons took a step back as a specials teams and backup player. With Lawrence Timmons traded to the Miami Dolphins, the Steelers inability to acquire Dont’a Hightower in free agency, and the Steelers not drafting an inside linebacker in the 2017 NFL Draft, Williams was allotted the starting role again. Along with that sign of trust from the organization, before the 2016 season Williams signed a 3 year, 5.5 million dollar contract.
Antonio Brown and James Harrison accompany the two lockers next to Williams. With Brown drafted in the 6th round and Harrison undrafted, Williams has surrounded himself with successful players who started their career in the same position he did. Williams has never been labeled as shy, he won’t stop asking questions until he fully understands the concept at hand. Along with the passion to learn more, Williams outgoing personality is shown on the field through his constant trash talking. This trash talking doesn’t arise from immaturity or cockiness, but from sheer poise and confidence.
The Steelers are historically known for their legendary linebackers. Becoming a starting linebacker in Pittsburgh puts a player into a special brotherhood. Williams is well aware of the special role he has been given and is ready to go above and beyond to be a part of the group. Williams’s first move to become a true Pittsburgh linebacker happened a few years ago when he began training with Harrison during the offseason. Shazier also works out with Harrison and both publicly attest to the improvement the Harrison workout regime has made on their on the field performance.
Williams practiced in full pads for the first time this past Wednesday after coming off of shoulder surgery this offseason and made an immediate impact. During the one-on-one drills between the linebackers and running backs,tight ends, he dominated physically and led the linebackers in reps won. Look for Williams to fit right in and make an impact on the starting defense this season.
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