Although it might not necessarily come off that way from the outside, there is nobody within the Pittsburgh Steelers locker room who is under any misapprehension about how much respect Vince Williams commands among his peers. The veteran inside linebacker has scratched and clawed for every snap he gets, and his teammates respect him not only for that, but for his energy and his insight.
In fact, even though he spent less than a season with him, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick told reporters earlier today that Williams was among the two players who got his vote for defensive captain this year, with Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt ultimately selected.
“The title of captain is tough, especially here. We’ve got multiple guys that could be captain, but we only voted on two”, he said. “I could name at least five guys that should be captain, and Vince actually got one of my votes to be a captain”.
“He’s a great leader, he’s a workhorse. He does everything the right way, won’t cut corners”, he went on. “He came from not the typical background of a high-caliber player like he is. He grinded for everything that he has. He keeps that in the back of his mind and he plays like it. He’ll run through somebody and be excited about it. I love playing with him. He plays with great energy. He just makes the game a lot more fun to just be around”.
Mike Tomlin likes to use the term ‘energy bringer’, and it happens to come up a lot when discussing Vince Williams. That shouldn’t be any surprise to anybody who has watched him play, as he does everything with intensity.
A sixth-round pick in 2013 out of Florida State, he fought just to make the 53-man roster as a rookie, but showed enough that, when Larry Foote went down in the opener that year, he worked his way into a ‘starting’ role, though the truth is they primarily turned to a dime defense that season.
It wasn’t until Lawrence Timmons departed in free agency that Williams moved into the starting lineup in 2017 and 2018, but with Mark Barron and Devin Bush being brought in last year, he moved to the back burner again. Now he’s back in the starting lineup as the veteran to Bush.
So far through three games, he has 14 tackles, including eight for a loss, the most in the NFL, with two sacks. That’s a pretty productive first three games of the season, accumulating that in 137 snaps, which works out to about 70 percent of the team’s total defensive snaps.
Most of the remaining snaps have gone to Cameron Sutton when the Steelers turn to their dime defense. Bush has played every snap of the season so far, and that shouldn’t change any time soon unless he gets injured.