“I met Avery at Bud Dupree’s Pro Day after his rookie year in the NFL,” explained Tomlin. “There was a lot of down time during the course of that day, and we kind of gravitated toward one another. His passion for football comes through in general conversation. He’s a football lover, a football junkie. I followed him throughout the course of his NFL career because of that.
“At the early stages of his career he played in Tennessee (for the Titans) in a system of defense that was very similar to ours, not only in terms of how it was constructed but also the language itself. He’s a guy who fortifies depth in an area in which we’ve been challenged recently. We know that we’ve lost Devin Bush and lost Devin Bush for 2020, but additionally to that in recent weeks Ulysees Gilbert has been less than available with a back (injury). So at the trade deadline we thought it was necessary, if we had an opportunity, to get a known commodity, one like Avery Williamson who we were somewhat familiar with and who was somewhat familiar with our schematics, and put him into the fold.
“With as much ball as we have that lies ahead, it was a prudent thing to do, and we’re excited about having him.”
Until they faced the Ravens, the Steelers had one of the NFL’s best run defenses, but giving up 265 yards rushing, including 179 in the first half, and with exactly two healthy inside linebackers on the roster, the team did the prudent thing.
Whether Williamson will be able to put his hand in the pile against Dallas and Ezekiel Elliott, Tomlin didn’t have a definitive answer.
“A lot will be determined by the process this week,” said Tomlin. “The teaching and learning process will be challenged because of the COVID-19 protocol – we’ll be working remotely with him until Saturday. But also some of the other things that are going on at his position will be a determining factor whether or not we attempt (to have him available this Sunday). For the long-term, we have a vision of him being a third inside linebacker, a guy who’s position flexible, a guy who’s capable of supporting Robert and Vince (Williams), and being available if anything should happen to either.”