Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: ILB Vince Williams
Stock Value: Up
It feels pretty unusual that my natural inclination is to point out players whose stock is going up in this series when this is ostensibly a bad team, with a 1-4 record. Yet it seems that the Steelers have plenty of talent. After all, they have lost three games by a combined nine points, so it’s not like they’re being blown out every week. They have been in every game, even in position to win them before making mistakes that cost them.
I don’t feel as though I’m going out of my way to look for the positives. Generally, I don’t think the Steelers are plagued with players who are performing poorly. Yet it just hasn’t translated into wins when they can’t all get on the same page at the same time consistently enough.
Perhaps the return of Vince Williams can help provide some more consistency to the defensive unit. Outside of Cameron Heyward, Williams is the most experienced and longest-tenured member of the team on that side of the ball, and he has missed most of the year.
With Mark Barron missing this game with an injury, Williams will be asked to go most of the way along with Devin Bush, and while you don’t want to see him covering Keenan Allen—ahem—that should be viewed as a good thing based on his return performance last week against the Baltimore Ravens.
The veteran finished that game with nine tackles, including one for a loss, with a sack and a pass defensed. He was a strong communicator when he was on the field as well, something this defense needs, and something Barron hasn’t always been when he was out there, quite frankly.
Where Williams can help especially is stopping the run. The Steelers would like to try to make the Los Angeles Chargers one-dimensional early on. Philip Rivers can win games, of course, but if you know he’s throwing it, Pittsburgh has a front seven that can get to him.