PITTSBURGH -- Several key Steelers players were conducting interviews after Tuesday's organized team activities session. After I got what I needed from a few segments, I sauntered over to DeAngelo Williams' media scrum.
About 15 seconds in, I hear a question about Williams' comfort level filling Le'Veon Bell's role in the passing game. Bell, who caught 85 passes last year, will miss the first three games due to suspension.
That's when Williams started to sigh, before lowering the boom.
Here is Williams' one-plus-minute answer in its entirety:
Let me make sure we get this straight. Because all the Le'Veon questions and me and if I’m able to fill the role or if I’m not and all this. I came from Carolina, where I started for most of my career, OK? So that’s not a heavy workload AT ALL. By no means is it a heavy workload. All I have to do is get the playbook down, which I am. Understanding the terminology, which is different than Carolina’s, which I am (learning). There won’t be any questions or problems with me answering these questions. Ya’ll just sit back and take a seat and relax and enjoy the show.
(The reporter chimed in that Williams is an accomplished back but the Steelers' passing game asks a lot of the tailback)
Just sit back and enjoy the show and you can answer your own questions. If you watch practice, I get out here and work on my hands to get them right. I’m aware he caught 85 balls. I’m aware that Dri (Archer) caught a lot of balls last year. I’m aware that if the ball is thrown in my direction, I’m expected to catch it because the media is going to be on my back. I understand the role that I’m put in right now. I’m behind Le’Veon. I’m Le’Veon’s backup. There’s going to be a lot of emphasis on me. I get it. But guess what? I’m ready to handle that role. Whatever you guys are ready to throw at me, I’m ready for it. So shoot. Give me everything that you’ve got. Because it can’t get any worse than what you’ve already given me.”
After asking around, the interview had a fairly innocuous tone before I arrived, so maybe Williams was ready to deliver this message regardless. He wanted it known -- he's capable. Williams struck the right balance here, getting his point across strongly without being demonstrative. His words lit a fire to the media session.
Williams is an accomplished back with two 1,000-yard seasons, but don't expect him to carry the ball 20-plus times a game. Williams averaged 12.2 carries a game during his nine-year career.
Injuries hampered Williams, 32, who finished 2014 with 219 yards in six games. Williams aims to grow those totals, which the Steelers expect after signing him to a two-year, $4-million deal.
"They let me know I can still play," Williams said. "I knew I could still play."