When it comes to Vince William’s NFL career, nothing has come easy or been handed to him.His story so far,has been that of the underdog facing long odds.Williams was not invited to the NFL scouting combine,however he was drafted by the Steelers as a 6th round pick out of Florida State and the 206th pick of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Many may have thought of him as a long shot to make the practice squad his rookie season let alone the 53 man active roster.
Williams would not only make the roster, but he fought his way up the depth chart during training camp and the preseason becoming starting linebacker Larry Foote‘s primary back up.
As fate would have it,Foote would suffer a season ending injury in week one and Williams would be thrown into the starting line up,starting 10 of the last 11 games of his rookie campaign.
Going into the 2014 season the Steelers drafted inside linebacker Ryan Shazier in the first round and again moved Williams to a back up role, primarily backing up starter Lawrence Timmons.
Williams would see a lot of special teams action and tied for the lead in special team tackles that season with 15 .He would also start two more games.
The 2015 season would bring more special teams duty as Vince Williams would lead the team again with 11 tackles . Williams seen action in all 16 games and two post season games.Despite not starting,he collected 46 tackles in the regular season.
The 2016 season would bring a boost of confidence with the Steelers signing Williams to a 3 year contract extension reportedly worth 5.5 million and a 1.5 million signing bonus. Williams would still be regulated to his special teams and back up role for most of the season, however he took full advantage of his first starting opportunity of the season filling in for an injured Ryan Shazier in game 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs.Williams would go on to lead the Steelers with a career high 15 tackles and his first solo sack.The Steelers would win the game 43-14.He followed that game up with another start against the New York Jets where he again led the team with 9 tackles including a sack.The Steelers won that game 31-13.Vince Williams would end the season with 4 starts and 47 total tackles including two sacks.
Fast forward to the up and coming season of 2017.Long time starter Lawrence Timmons has left via free agency.The Steelers flirted with the idea of bringing in a free agent inside linebacker but in the end signed no one.
Many thought the Steelers would address the position in the 2017 NFL draft but that also never materialized.
The Steelers are finally showing great faith in Vince Williams,giving him the inside track to the starting position across from Ryan Shazier . Williams spoke about his thoughts recently after an OTA practice session….
Inside Linebacker Vince Williams : “I am humbled,we had an opportunity to get some linebackers in free agency. We had an opportunity to draft a first-round linebacker. It shows the organization has a lot of confidence in me. It is the first time I have ever felt that way.”
Williams also knows he has big shoes to fill taking over for a Steeler mainstay the likes of Lawrence Timmons…
Williams: “That is a huge role to fill, because of his quiet demeanor I don’t think he ( Timmons) got the credit for being the leader he was. He was just a guy that was the definition of consistency. That is really what he is. You lose a great guy like that, it puts a lot of pressure on me and all of the other linebackers,everybody else has to step up and fill that void.
I encourage it ( pressure), I look forward to it and I embrace it .”
“I feel like I am ready, I feel like I am going to get better and be more ready as it progresses. “
The Steelers believe that Williams is up to the task and now it’s his turn to prove them right.
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