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Career of linebacker Sean Spence is in doubt

Nerve damage affecting the total recovery of the Steelers' 2012 third round pick Sean Spence. The team isn't ruling it out, but playing this season doesn't seem likely.

Justin K. Aller

Steelers' linebacker coach Keith Butler has had a good weekend. He received a quarterback-eating monster in Jarvis Jones to mold, and just picked up ILB Vince Williams to provide depth at a position the Steelers thought they had addressed last year with Sean Spence.

Spence looked great in the pre-season last year and looked like he would provide some help on special teams and be placed into the fold on nickel situations to aid in pass-coverage. All those plans came crashing down when Spence suffered a brutal knee injury in the final pre-season game against Carolina last season. (*Don't click on the link to the knee injury if you don't want to see it...)

Spence missed all of 2012, and the Steelers have remained remarkably silent on any progress he was having in his recovery. No one spoke directly about when, if ever, Spence would return to the fold, though there have been signs. The Steelers brought back Larry Foote for three years, and signed Stevenson Sylvester back after letting him test free agency.

Apparently, the team message changed today when Keith Butler told Jim Wexell that the Steelers will give Spence another year, but it "will be miraculous if he comes back."

This is bad news, and comes as a bit of a surprise since the Steelers past on investing in a future starter at the position in the 2013 draft (Vince Williams doesn't count).

If Spence doesn't come back and Le'Veon Bell becomes another Big Ten failure, the Steelers will have to explain why they let Arthur Brown go to the Ravens when the position clearly presents as big of a need as it did last season when they drafted Spence, if not more.