Well before DeAngelo Williams ever even made his free agent visit to Pittsburgh, he was already endearing himself to fans around the NFL, particularly those who follow him on social media, with his warm, inviting, and positive personality. It was no surprise to see the Pittsburgh Steelers faithful be so quick to embrace him.
That doesn’t mean, however, that he can’t get serious when he feels it’s necessary, or when his abilities are questioned, and that’s what we got a glimpse of yesterday as he was questioned, once again, about his level of preparedness for being the team’s starting running back to begin the 2015 season.
As an accomplished player in his own right, the former first-round running back has a lot of pride in his abilities, even if he is in the twilight era of his career at the age of 32, which is a rare feat for running backs. So naturally it hasn’t been a thrilling experience as he transitions into the last leg of his career as a clear reserve player behind a young, established starter.
Williams was made available during the OTAs, and was gregarious in his communications with the media, but as the focus shifted toward whether he was confident in his abilities to fill the shoes of a back that has been in the league for two years, we saw the veteran back grow somewhat blunt and direct, perhaps even a little impatient.
Here is the answer that he provided to the media, in part, as transcribed by ESPN Senior NFL Writer Jeremy Fowler. “Let me make sure we get this straight”, he began as a prelude to explaining why he shouldn’t be talked to as if he were a rookie undrafted free agent, when asked about his expected workload to start the year.
“I came from Carolina, where I started for most of my career, OK? So that’s not a heavy workload AT ALL. By no means is it a heavy workload. All I have to do is get the playbook down, which I am. Understanding the terminology, which is different than Carolina’s, which I am”.
I certainly place no blame on an established veteran such as Williams take issue with the suggestion that he will struggle to be prepared to run an offense or carry a certain workload. Frankly, if he didn’t bring that sense of pride with him, even with the amount of pride he’s already had to swallow, I would be disappointed. He continued:
I get out here and work on my hands to get them right. … I’m aware that if the ball is thrown in my direction, I’m expected to catch it because the media is going to be on my back. I understand the role that I’m put in right now. I’m behind Le’Veon. I’m Le’Veon’s backup. There’s going to be a lot of emphasis on me. I get it. But guess what? I’m ready to handle that role. Whatever you guys are ready to throw at me, I’m ready for it. So shoot. Give me everything that you’ve got. Because it can’t get any worse than what you’ve already given me.
I think I just grew to like DeAngelo Williams a bit more after yesterday’s mini-rant. If you’ll recall, early on after his signing he humbled himself, saying he would run out towels between plays so the quarterback could wipe his hands, such was his willingness to do anything asked of him. How much further should he be expected to humble himself before he’s allowed to express some confidence in his ability to actually do his job?