Ready or not, Avery Williamson might be pressed into action. Just a little more than one week since being traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Williamson may see serious playing time Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. Lack of depth was the driving reason for his arrival in Pittsburgh and with Vince Williams on the COVID list, Williamson is about the only option they have. Butler made that clear speaking to reporters Thursday.
“He’s going to have to be ready for us,” Butler said of Williamson, according to a team transcript. “Vince [Williams] is out this week, but we expect Vince to come ready to play. Vince has a lot of experience, so I’m not worried about him missing the time because he has plenty of mental reps watching the practice and stuff like that in terms of what we want him to do. I’m not worried about Vince.”
As Butler gets to in the rest of his answer, the hope is Williams will be available this weekend. He was placed on the COVID list not because of a positive test but for being deemed high-risk and close-contact with TE Vance McDonald, who did contract the virus. If Williams continues to test negative, he should be cleared Saturday and ready for the game against the Bengals. But there’s no guarantee he will gain clearance so Williamson has to prepare to play.
Butler said he likes the job Williamson has done getting ready.
“Avery [Williamson] has done a good job for us. He is still learning. We are going to try and get as many reps for him as we can and let him continue to learn. I think he will help us.”
The upside is Williamson will be able to soak up plenty of reps in practice this week with Williams quarantining from home.
Williamson is regarded as a savvy veteran with some knowledge of the Steelers’ system. He began his career with the Tennessee Titans, working with former Steelers’ coaches Ray Horton and Dick LeBeau. But Williamson is going from the dumpster fire that was the Jets to the frying pan that is picking up Pittsburgh’s system very quickly. Ideally, Williams will get cleared, play, and Williamson will bide his time on special teams for at least another week.