Steelers Injury News: Linebacker Group Thin As Pittsburgh Prepares for Broncos

Aug 30, 2012; Pittsburgh , PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Sean Spence (51) is helped to a cart after being injured against the Carolina Panthers during the second half of the game at Heinz Field. The Steelers won the game, 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-US PRESSWIRE

For the second straight week, the Steelers lost a promising young rookie to a devastating knee injury. Last week, it was first round pick, guard David DeCastro, who suffered a major knee injury in the second series of the Steelers game against the Bills. DeCastro was later diagnosed with a torn MCL and a dislocated knee cap and had surgery on Wednesday. The good news for DeCastro is that he could be back by mid-season.

Unfortunately, the news isn't so bright for rookie linebacker Sean Spence, who suffered a pretty gruesome knee injury while chasing down Jimmy Claussen in the third quarter of last night's night preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. Mike Florio is reporting that Spence could have a torn ACL, a torn LCL (lateral collateral ligament) and a dislocated knee cap. You need not look any further than the torn ACL to know that Spence would miss the entire season. It's sad for Spence, who had a great camp and was expected to contribute on the special teams as well as provide much needed depth to the Steelers linebacker corps.

Speaking of that depth at linebacker, it just keeps getting thinner for Pittsburgh in that department. Outside linebackers James Harrison and Jason Worilds don't appear to be anywhere near ready for game action despite being activated from the PUP list earlier in the week. Harrison is still dealing with a left knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery earlier in the month, and the chances of him being ready for the week one opener in Denver are remote at best. Worilds appears to be even farther away from returning to action as he's still recovering from offseason wrist surgery. Lastly, inside linebacker Stevenson Sylvester tore his MCL in practice earlier in the month and is probably still a couple of weeks away from returning to action.

There is no question that the Steelers are extremely thin at linebacker, and you can expect guys who normally wouldn't have made the roster to not only make it, but contribute heavily in the season opener vs. the Broncos.

Spence's injury was the third significant knee injury of the preseason--in addition to DeCastro, tight end/fullback David Johnson was lost for the year after suffering a torn ACL in the preseason opener against the Eagles on August 9th.

In other injury news, second year corner Curtis Brown also left last night's game with a knee injury and never returned to action. As of right now, there is no further news to report on the injury. However, if it keeps Brown out of action for any length of time, it will compromise the team's depth at secondary, as both he and fellow second year corner Cortez Allen were expected to play a lot this season. Brown, who also had to be placed on IR with a knee injury last December, was also an exceptional special teams player in 2011 and would be expected to contribute significantly to the unit again this season.

The only other injury of note from last night's game was a hamstring suffered by rookie safety Robert Golden, who left the game and did not return. Golden was said to be on the bubble to make the team, and he did make a splash play with an interception in the second half of last week's 38-7 win in Buffalo. No word on the severity of injury, but it certainly could impact his ability to make the 53 man roster.

Stay tuned to Behind the Steel Curtain for more news on the injury to Spence as well as any other injury news that could impact the team's final 53 man roster as it prepares for the season opener in Denver on September 9th.

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