It is hard to find some sort of silver lining following the Pittsburgh Steelers 17-16 preseason win Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers as the game was marred by the potential season ending left knee injury by rookie inside linebacker Sean Spence late in the third quarter.
The only real positive news after the game was reported by Mike Prisuta of DVE Radio, who said via Twitter that a defensive player informed him that linebackers James Harrison and Jason Worilds will be able to play in the opener one week from this coming Sunday in Denver. Both were recently removed from the PUP list and sat out all of training camp and the preseason.
The word out of the Steelers’ locker room from a defensive player is that James Harrison and Jason Worilds are playing at Denver
— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) August 31, 2012
Spence, who has mostly been playing the weak inside MACK linebacker spot with the second unit throughout the preseason, reportedly tore his ACL, his LCL and dislocated his knee cap. After the game head coach Mike Tomlin said during his post game press conference that the injury to Spence was significant and that he was currently in local hospital.
The loss of Spence, combined with Stevenson Sylvester being out at least another week or two with a torn MCL, leaves Brandon Johnson as the only healthy backup inside linebacker that was expected to make the 53 man roster. The Steelers might now turn to either 2011 undrafted rookie Marshall McFadden or the waiver wire for inside linebacker help.
Another outside possibility that the Steelers might have is to bring back veteran James Farrior, who was released during the offseason, until Sylvester is fully healthy.
The Spence injury also hurts the Steelers special teams units as he was a member of all of the return and coverage units.
Another player who might benefit from the injury to Spence is undrafted rookie outside linebacker Adrian Robinson.
The Steelers must now cut their roster down from 75 to 53 players by 9 p.m. eastern time on Friday.