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Thread: Kion Wilson ready to buck up, replace Foote

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    Kion Wilson ready to buck up, replace Foote

    Steelers' Wilson ready to buck up, replace Foote

    By Mark Kaboly
    Published: Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013

    Mike Tomlin never viewed Kion Wilson as the eventual replacement for Larry Foote at the buck inside linebacker position for the Steelers.

    When Wilson was signed to a future's contract in January after spending the majority of 2012 out of football and working as an insurance adjuster, Tomlin immediately made it clear what he wanted from him.

    “He wanted me to be a special teams stud,” Wilson said.

    And that's what Wilson became.

    Wilson did it so well that it was easy for Tomlin to shove aside draft pick Stevenson Sylvester and up-and-comer Marshall McFadden and use the “special teams stud” spot on the guy who has never taken an NFL defensive snap since leaving South Florida four years ago.

    But that will change in front of about 15 million television viewers Monday night when the Steelers take on AFC North foe Cincinnati.

    Wilson will replace Foote after the veteran was lost for the season Sunday with a ruptured biceps.

    “I have always emphasized to myself to know my role and wait my turn,” said Wilson, who spent time with San Diego and Carolina before signing with the Steelers. “I knew my role up until this point, and I guess my turn is now. It is definitely an opportunity for me, and I will gladly accept the opportunity and hopefully be able to help the team out the best I can.”

    Wilson (6-foot, 239 pounds) carved out his niche on special teams during the preseason but saw his share of snaps at inside linebacker and played well. He played 90 defensive snaps in the preseason with the majority of those (59 coming over the final two games. He finished with 10 tackles and a sack and earned the trust of the coaching staff and teammates.

    “Kion went through our camp, and he's picked up our defense,” said linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who will call the defensive plays. “(Linebackers) coach (Keith) Butler is going to do a good job prepping him for the game, (and) coach (Dick) LeBeau has been doing this for awhile.”

    Wilson believes that being surrounded by a veteran defensive unit will help him make up for his lack of experience.

    “When you are in there with the first team, those guys know the defense so well,” Wilson said. “When you are in there with a bunch of young guys and they aren't communicating as much, that's when there's a problem. I am very comfortable with my athletic ability, and I feel that I can compete with the best of the best. I was just waiting for that opportunity.”

    That opportunity almost never came.

    An uneasy childhood — his father was murdered when Wilson was 3 years old — sent him down a path of trouble that resulted in an arrest at age 13 and a nine-month stay in a boarding school for troubled youth.

    Wilson got his life back on track and played a year of football at Pearl City Community College before transferring to South Florida, where he was named first-team Big East by his senior year.

    After what Wilson went through, replacing a veteran inside linebacker in front of a Monday Night Football audience isn't that daunting of a task.

    “Trust me, I am not worried about the Monday night game and the circumstances around it,” Wilson said. “I just want to make sure I am prepared and the coaches trust me to be out there.”


  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by hawaiiansteel View Post

    “He wanted me to be a special teams stud,” Wilson said.

    And that's what Wilson became.
    He did?????

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by flippy View Post
    He did?????
    Well........ ST didn't lose the game against the Titans, so compared to both Offensive & Defensive players in week 1...maybe he did...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chadman View Post
    Well........ ST didn't lose the game against the Titans, so compared to both Offensive & Defensive players in week 1...maybe he did...
    Special teams didn't help, either. But Wilson was not among those penalized on special teams, so on the Steelers, that makes him pretty close to a stud.

  5. #5
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    For the Steelers, the term "Special Teams stud" has a slightly lesser meaning than it does for other teams.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by steeler_fan_in_t.o. View Post
    For the Steelers, the term "Special Teams stud" has a slightly lesser meaning than it does for other teams.
    yeah, it means you didn't have any penalties called on you during the last game...

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    I gotta be honest. I have never heard of Kion Wilson until I read this thread.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by hawaiiansteel View Post
    yeah, it means you didn't have any penalties called on you during the last game...
    Thanks for explaining it. I watched the whole game and couldn't figure out why I didn't notice this stud

  9. #9

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    Steelers LB Wilson ready for starting role


    UPDATED SEP 13, 2013 5:55 PM ET

    Kion Wilson's football career was at a standstill a year ago.

    Actually, that's being polite. It was over.

    Cut during the preseason by the Carolina Panthers, the linebacker returned to Tampa and kept waiting for his agent to call with an offer from another team. It never happened. August turned into September. Wilson turned from dreamer to pragmatist.

    Alarm set for 5 a.m. each morning, Wilson would work out for three hours at a high school near his place in Tampa, shower, then drive to an office where he worked as a debt collector for a medical supply company. While the NFL went on without the former South Florida captain, Wilson would sit in a cubicle and try to work with customers on reconciling a bill. Late in the afternoon, he'd hop back in his car and drive 20 miles up the road to begin a second job as an insurance salesman.

    The gigs weren't fun, but they offered him flexibility and a decent paycheck.

    ''I wasn't doing it to get ahead,'' Wilson said. ''I was trying to make ends meet.''

    And trying to not give up in the process.

    ''I just knew I would get one more chance,'' Wilson said. ''I knew I would get one more opportunity.''

    Then the Pittsburgh Steelers called. And everything changed.

    Now the player who spent portions of last fall working as an insurance adjuster in Superstorm Sandy ravaged portions of New York - where he helped people pick through the rubble of their life's work - finds himself in position to be a starter for the NFL's best defense.

    Wilson will get a shot at filling in for veteran Larry Foote on Sunday when the Steelers (0-1) travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals (0-1). Foote is done for the season after tearing his right biceps late in last week's 16-9 loss to Tennessee.

    In his place is a 26-year-old whose NFL resume includes brief stints on the 53-man rosters in San Diego and Carolina and little more. Wilson did ''well'' during the handful of plays he after Foote walked off the field, building off the vote of confidence he received when he beat out more established players like Marshall McFadden and Brian Rolle in training camp to take one of the backup spots behind Foote and Lawrence Timmons.

    Wilson survived in part by doing the dirty work required to thrive on special teams. While not exactly intimidating - Wilson stands just 6-feet tall and weighs 232 pounds - his willingness to throw his body around earned him the respect of his peers and coach Mike Tomlin.

    Though he insists he doesn't ''count numbers'' Wilson was well aware of what was at stake on cut down day. When a Steelers official stopped by his hotel room that morning, Wilson calmly answered the door. When the official asked if Rolle - who had been sharing a room with Wilson - was around, Wilson responded by telling him Rolle wasn't around then did his best to bite his tongue.

    ''I wanted to be like `You need me by any chance, you plan on coming back later?''' Wilson said with a laugh.

    If Wilson needed a final answer, he got one later that day when he ran into Tomlin and the rest of the coaching staff in the hotel lobby.

    ''I see them walking past me with all the players playbooks and I see coach Tomlin and he goes `Wilson' and he kind of nodded,'' Wilson said. ''I was like, `I guess I made it' and that was it.''

    The emotional high hadn't worn off when linebackers coach Keith Butler screamed ''55'' after Foote went down against Tennessee. Wilson sprinted onto the field and into the huddle, his long journey back from football's fringe complete.

    The Steelers have a history of turning undrafted free agents into impact players. James Harrison. Ryan Clark. Ramon Foster. It's way too early for Wilson to think about joining that group. There's little doubt, however, if he doesn't make it, it's not because he didn't get the shot he always knew would come.

    ''Back in the spring, coach Tomlin said `I don't care by what way you got here, you're here,''' Wilson said. ''If you can put your hand in the pile and win, that's all that matters. That let me know there's no favoritism. It's the best man for the job.

    ''That's what I needed to hear.''


    NOTES: C Fernando Velasco practiced with the first team Friday and could start against the Bengals. The Steelers signed Velasco Monday after losing Maurkice Pouncey to a torn ACL. ... K Shaun Suisham (hamstring) practiced and could play. The Steelers brought in Shayne Graham in case Suisham can't go ... CB Cortez Allen (ankle) did not practice and is doubtful.

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  10. #10
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    Whoever he is, I'm a Kion Wilson fan now. I hope he has some James Harrison in him.


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