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Mike Tomlin has known about Avery Williamson for quite some time

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Late Sunday night, the Steelers traded their fifth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to the Jets for inside linebacker Avery Williamson, along with a seventh-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

It was a move to add depth with Devin Bush being done for the season after tearing his ACL against the Browns in Week 6. Robert Spillane has made some splash plays in the 10 quarters that he's filled in for Bush this season, but the Steelers are always looking for ways to improve their team and be as prepared as possible.

"We'll utilize all of the tools at our disposal to fortify our depth and present the strongest football team," Mike Tomlin said today at his weekly press conference. "Sometimes different journeys create different challenges, and we're just responding to what we believe is appropriate to the challenges that this journey is providing to us."

Tomlin said he has known about Williamson for quite some time, as he ran into him at Bud Dupree's Pro Day in 2015. Williamson was teammates with Dupree at Kentucky. The Steelers drafted Dupree at 22nd overall in the 2015 NFL Draft.

"I met Avery at Bud Dupree's Pro Day after his rookie year in the NFL," Tomlin said. "There was a lot of downtime 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 Tennesse 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," Tomlin said. "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."

Due to the COVID-19 protocols, the Steelers will be working with Williamson remotely until Saturday, so his status for Sunday's game against the Cowboys is up in the air as of right now.

"A lot will be determined by the process this week," Tomlin said. "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."

Injury Notes

Derek Watt (hamstring) and Jordan Dangerfield (quadriceps) are expected to play against the Cowboys this week after missing Sunday's game against the Ravens. Mike Hilton (shoulder), who also was out against the Ravens, will likely be limited early in the week.

Tyson Alualu (knee) and Cam Heyward (quad) had in-game injuries against Baltimore, and Tomlin said they are "more optimistic" about Heyward playing against the Cowboys and they'll take a "wait-and-see" approach with Alualu.

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