Much of the focus during Sunday’s game, and understandably so, was on Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and how he would play after missing the week of practice because he was required to serve a stint on the Reserve/Covid-19 List as a close contact of a positive case.
But he was only one of four players who spent time on the reserve list, only went through a Saturday walkthrough, and then played on Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, including reserves, running back Jaylen Samuels and lineman Jerald Hawkins. And defensive starter, linebacker Vince Williams, was in that group as well.
In spite of that fact, and in spite of the fact that the game plan slanted heavily toward employing dime and seven-defensive-back looks, he still played about half of the Steelers’ defensive snaps, and would have played more if not for the game being a blowout, as Avery Williamson played mop-up duty.
While he hasn’t gotten a lot of attention for his play in the game, his teammates were there to talk him up, not just for Sunday’s showing, but for what he has been accomplishing really throughout the season, including Terrell Edmunds, speaking to reporters yesterday.
“Vince, he’s the type of guy that you want to have on your squad, because he makes a big hit almost every game”, he said, via video of an interview provided by the team’s media department. “Even though those guys missed a week, they’re pros. They’ve been in the game for a long time. We knew that they were going to stay on top of everything, that they were going to stay on their game plan and be ready for the game on Sunday. They just keep balling out for us”.
Williams finished the game with four total tackles, and while he missed out on a coveted tackle for loss, he still managed to land the big hit that has become synonymous with the energy that he brings to the field game after game.
The veteran now has 49 tackles on the season, including 14 tackles for loss, with remains tied for the league lead with teammate and fellow linebacker T.J. Watt. He has three sacks and a recovered fumble as well, though one of the most baffling statistics to me remains the fact that he has never forced a fumble in his career.
Devin Bush was supposed to be the guy he runs with, but of course he was lost to a torn ACL in the first half of the season. Second-year Robert Spillane has had to fill in since then, and he has been growing increasingly comfortable in his role.
Will Williamson, recently acquired via trade and with a history of starting experience, begin to work his way into a rotation at linebacker and chip away at their playing time? For the moment, it’s not clear that there is an intention to do that, but time will tell on that front.