LATROBE, Pa. – Running back De'Angelo Williams knows his number is going to be called plenty this season, the big question is, will it be called as a starter when the Steelers open the regular season against the Washington Redskins on Sept. 12.
Running back Le'Veon Bell is appealing a potential four-game suspension for violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. Bell was suspended for the first two games of the 2015 season for violating the policy, and is now appealing a second suspension for what is being reported as a missed test, which the NFL categorizes as a failed test in Bell's case because of his previous violation.
Williams said he doesn't know much more about the appeal than anyone else, but one thing he does know, he will be ready to go whenever needed.
"Le'Veon has addressed it already, so there is nothing I can say about it," said Williams. "He has addressed it and we will see what the appeal process is. The same information everybody else got, I got. I didn't inquire about it because I didn't want to know more because I knew I would be faced with questions. Every bit of information that comes out that you guys get, I get that same information.
"I'll be ready for all 16 games whether I play or not play. It's better to be ready than try and get ready during midseason."
Williams, who is in his 11th season, started 10 games for the Steelers last year and was a starter when he played for the Carolina Panthers, so this is nothing new to him.
"This is the NFL. There are no backups," said Williams. "Whether we are tagged that or not, if you are on the 53-man roster and you are active, then you are considered a starter with less reps as opposed to the guy who starts the game."
Williams said he went through the same offseason conditioning program he does every year, making sure he came in to camp in top shape to handle anything that comes his way.
"It was the same process, getting myself acclimated to these conditions in Latrobe," said Williams. "Not only that, but running a lot because I know that's what Le'Veon does. It's being in shape to take a tremendous stretch or a smaller stretch. Being prepared for whatever Coach throws at me."
While most of the younger players noticed the intensity picking up in practice on Sunday when the pads came on for the first time, Williams noticed it the first time the team took the field this camp, and sees the expectations are once again high for the team.
"The intensity has picked up this year as opposed to last year from day one," said Williams. "Just the way we work, the sense of urgency, has picked up this camp from last camp. I can tell a difference from this camp to last camp. I don't know if it's because I know the offense real well and my approach is different because I know what I am doing as opposed to learning it.
"We have high expectations every year. It's Super Bowl or bust. Especially for the veteran guys because you don't know how many years you have left. The sense of urgency definitely picks up."