With the 2020 NFL preseason being canceled this year dire to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it will be interesting to see how teams around the league go about getting ready for a regular season game during training camp. We already know that padded training camp practices won’t get underway for a few more weeks and that when they do, only 14 of them can take place before the regular season starts.
With that poorly written lede out of the way, Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Vince Williams was asked a few interesting questions during his Wednesday media session about the need for tackling during this year’s training camp.
For starters, Williams, one of the team’s hardest hitters and most physical defensive players on the roster, was asked if he thinks the team needs to hit more this year during training camp due to there not being any preseason games. He was also asked if he expects head Coach Mike Tomlin to have and even tougher camp than usual due to the lack of a preseason schedule.
“That’s a great question,” Williams said. “I don’t know, to be honest with you. Nobody really knows. I mean, we gotta find a way to evaluate these guys without preseason games, because a lot of the young guys, or just from a strictly an evaluation point, we don’t know what they can do. Physicality may be a trait that a lot of guys lean on and they may not have that many opportunities to be able to display that. So, I mean, I’m pretty sure, I’m confident, Coach Tomlin will find a way to get it done.”
Williams hit on a great point when it comes to some players likely not being able to completely show off their physicality traits during training camp and especially the newer and second-year players on the roster. Not being able to show that physicality, which is something Williams was able to do as a rookie sixth-round selection, could prevent a younger player or two from making the team’s 53-man roster or practice squad.
While Williams great point was made and put on record, he was then asked if he would suggest to Tomlin that the team hit more than usual in training camp if the head coach were to come to him and ask his opinion on the matter.
“No, absolutely not,” Williams said.
Ok, but would Williams suggest to Tomlin that the younger players hit more?
“No, I don’t think they need any more tackling,” Williams said. “But, I mean, it’s a catch-22. But if he asks me, I’m going to tell them we need less padded days.”
Williams was an alternate NFLPA player rep last season so it’s not surprising to see him end on a note that included him suggesting there be less padded practices, not more. That noted, I bet deep down inside that Williams thinks a healthy dose of hitting during this year’s training camp, especially the younger players, wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing and as a whole, might better ready the team for the start of the regular season.
Regardless of what Williams says or thinks on the matter of hitting, Tomlin probably already has a plan in place when it comes to the overall amount and intensity level of the padded practices that will take place starting a few weeks from now.