Mark Madden

Mark Madden

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Gerry Dulac of the Post-Gazette says the Steelers don’t intend to replace Robert Spillane as a starter at inside linebacker despite acquiring Avery Williamson from the New York Jets.

That may well be the Steelers’ intent just now.

But here’s betting it doesn’t work out like that.

Williamson is 28 and in his prime. He has started 81 games in the NFL, including six this year.

Spillane is 24, an undrafted free agent from the MAC and a special-teams whiz. He has started two NFL games – the last two.

Despite Spillane’s crucial pick-six yesterday, his big hit on Tennessee freight train Derrick Henry two Sundays ago and his overall solid play, the Steelers didn’t acquire Williamson to be Spillane’s backup. Spillane will play some. Once Williamson gets acclimated, he plays more.

That’s doing Spillane a favor. For him, less will be more.

Spillane isn’t fast enough. “He got away from Spillane.” “Spillane can’t quite get to the edge.” The TV announcers often used those phrases yesterday.

Spillane has performed very well. Once Williamson adjusts to the Steelers’ method, Spillane will still play more than he would have had Devin Bush never been hurt. He won’t merely resume his previous insignificant role.

But Williamson will play more than Spillane. That’s what’s best for the Steelers.

Williamson isn’t lightning fast, or great in coverage. He’s no Devin Bush, ranging from sideline to sideline. Few are.

But Williamson is a legitimate, established, NFL-level starting inside ‘backer. Spillane is not.

Courtesy of Getty Images

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