Although the Pittsburgh Steelers finalized a trade for him early on Monday, today will actually be the first day that new linebacker Avery Williamson will be permitted to be around his teammates. This is purely a consequence of the league’s enhanced Covid-19 protocols, which require that players undergo a six-day period of testing—even while having been tested daily with his previous team—when moving from one to another.
While he has been attending virtual meetings with the team and has been in contact with the Steelers in every way that does not involve his physical presence, it is exceedingly unlikely that he would actually dress for tomorrow’s game, and in fact he is still on the roster as an exemption.
But he will be available to the team for the second half of the season, in whatever capacity that ends up being, and whatever it is, he will be excited about it, going from an 0-8 New York Jets team to the 7-0 Pittsburgh Steelers, with a great chance to be the first team to hit eight wins—or at least shortly after the Kansas City Chiefs do, who have not yet had their bye week.
“Shoot, it was pretty crazy” the veteran linebacker told Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette earlier this week about the trade going through, saying he’d heard rumors since Devin Bush went down. “I didn’t know if it was going to happen. When it did, I couldn’t believe it. Winless to undefeated is pretty crazy”.
While the Steelers made the move to bring him in, the coaches have given no indications that they are interested in rushing him on the field, and in fact comments from head coach Mike Tomlin and defensive coordinator Keith Butler have signaled that they view him more as depth behind Vince Williams and Robert Spillane.
“I feel like with the way their linebackers play I definitely can make a big impact with this dominant defensive line that we have”, he told Fittipaldo, for his own part. “I can get a lot of tackles for losses. They let their linebackers run around and be free to hit. That’s a huge plus for me”.
After missing the season opener for the Jets and slowly ramping his way back up into playing time, Williamson has recorded 59 tackles this season across 355 snaps for the Jets, in his first action since 2018, after sitting out the previous season due to a torn ACL. None, however, have been for a loss.
He does have 26 career tackles for loss among 555 total, as well as 14.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, and four interceptions, one of which came earlier this season. How big of a role will he have in the Steelers’ defense by the time the playoffs roles around? That’s a question without an answer for the time being.