Veteran linebacker Avery Williamson has only been a Pittsburgh Steeler since November 2020, yet in a very short period of time, he has proven to be an important part of their depth at the linebacker position, which has been tested by injuries for over a month.
Since his debut with the team in week 10 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Williamson has compiled 52 total tackles, three tackles for loss, and two quarterback hits. Perhaps his best attribute so far has been his availability. So far, Williamson has been one of the few constants in the last few weeks.
What has come to the surface has been his leadership qualities, which he was known for during his time with the New York Jets. Williamson's ability to acclimate to a new defense and evolved in a short time to their primary playcaller, is indicative of continuous growth.
"I can’t say enough about his work and his work to get up to speed and embracing the responsibility of being a central communicator for us,” Tomlin said of Williamson in his postgame conference against the Buffalo Bills. “He was better. It is reasonable to expect him to continually get better with each opportunity, but I can’t say enough about his efforts in those areas.”
The transition from a career starter has been one Williamson has handled with the type of professionalism that has defined him since he came to the league. When coming to the Steelers, he understood what his role would be.
"I’ve been a starter before, my whole career, but it’s different when you’re on a new team and you haven’t been able to work with guys for camp and OTAs,” Williamson told Michael David Smith of "Pro Football Talk". “But I thought I handled it as well as I could. And I feel like the coaches they all have been helping me mentally the past few weeks.”
Even with the potential return of linebacker Robert Spillane for their upcoming Wildcard game against the Cleveland Brown, Williamson's role will be just as vital, even if his defensive snaps decrease. Whether he plays the role of starter or not, his contributions should never be understated.