During the Steelers pre-draft press conference with coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert, linebacker Sean Spence was a hot topic, as his recovery from a career-threatening injury could affect how early Pittsburgh targets an inside linebacker.
Tomlin was first asked about how Spence was recovering from the knee injury he sustained in the 2012 preseason. Tomlin was quick to note Spence’s recovery, going so far as to say that doctors have given him a "clean bill of health."
As a follow up, Tomlin was pressed on what role he envisioned for Spence on the 2014 roster. Tomlin tempered his expectations for Spence by not giving any specific role for the upcoming season, but said Spence would be able to prove himself on the field and compete for a role.
Further, Tomlin noted that he didn’t look at Spence as someone "starting from ground zero" after spending years with the team learning, and would expect more of him than other players coming in.
Spence will certainly be given a shot to compete for a role, and with a clean bill of health, could potentially work his way ahead of last years’ starter Vince Williams. Williams, a 2013 6th round pick, and Terrance Garvin, an undrafted free agent, represent the only depth at ILB behind Lawrence Timmons. Even though recently-signed linebacker Arthur Moats can play inside, he is currently projected to play a backup role at outside linebacker.
If Spence is to recover and contribute to the 2014 team, we fans would be witnessing a near-miracle as far as sports injuries go. If Spence can lock up the starter spot and live up to his draft hype, he could become inspiring enough to win the 2014 BTSC jersey purchase contest.