PITTSBURGH — The Steelers lost Vince Williams to his surprise retirement early in the week just before training camp. With no Williams, Robert Spillane became the pencilled in starter opposite of Devin Bush. While Mike Tomlin has some qualms about that assumption, Spillane’s play has certainly impressed everyone from Tomlin to the players themselves.
“I’m not assuming that he’s stepping in,” Tomlin said. “We’re here competing to divide the labor up and our work is going to determine what happens. But Rob is a guy that ascended over the course of last year and had an opportunity to make some plays for us. Hopefully, that’s a springboard for him to continue to do some of the things that you saw him do today and beyond. I like his attitude. He came ready to go.”
The plays Tomlin is referring to is an amazing one-handed interception that Spillane made on Saturday. In a Cover 6 scheme, Spillane became the default hook defender. However, when Mason Rudolph tried to sneak it behind Spillane to Ray-Ray McCloud, Spillane snagged it with one hand and returned it for a touchdown.
And while Tomlin will not give the vote of confidence to Spillane’s starting status just yet, Keith Butler was more than confident to do so on Friday. When asked who would replace Williams and his presence, Butler immediately offered up the confidence in Spillane.
“I think we’ll be okay inside,” Butler said. We’ve got a couple of good guys right there. I think [Robert] Spillane did a good job for us last year and he’ll continue to do a good job.”
Spillane played well in 2020 up until an MCL Sprain sidelined him until the playoffs. Even when he returned, Spillane looked slightly off. However, with a healthy knee and new aspirations, the Steelers will likely be looking to be Spillane to fill a big void.