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Source: Steelers quietly optimistic about Sean Spence, plan to draft LB Michael Mauti

The Steelers are reportedly very interested in Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti, and while linebacker Sean Spence is thought to be on the road to recovery, they are allegedly keeping quiet to not reveal intentions to draft Mauti today.

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Steelers 2012 third round draft pick Sean Spence suffered a gruesome knee injury in the preseason, and didn't play at all last year. The Steelers have been oddly quiet about Spence's status heading into the 2013 season.

As it turns out, there's a specific reason for that.

A source close to the team is saying the Steelers are optimistic Spence can play in 2013, but not enough to publicly discuss it. They are targeting Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti - a player who's coming off a knee injury of his own.

They view the instinctive Mauti as a future starter at the buck linebacker position, and is a main priority of their Day 3 draft strategy. The source feels the Steelers aren't talking about Spence in an effort to not lead others to feel they will make the inside linebacker position a priority.

Not mentioning Spence's status suggests there's still some doubt whether he will be a long-term option in Pittsburgh. But Spence was seen as a mack linebacker, and his speed and coverage ability could make his future more of a sub package player.

Allegedly, the Bears and Patriots are also interested in Mauti, which could push him further up the draft than initial predictions suggested.