Steelers GM Kevin Colbert Says LB Sean Spence Showing Small Signs Of Progress

During his Tuesday conference call with season ticket holders, Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was asked about the health status of inside linebacker Sean Spence, who is still recovering from tearing up his left knee last preseason in the game against the Carolina Panthers.

“Sean is progressing,” said Colbert. “When you have as serious a knee injury as he unfortunately had, it sometimes is a very long process. Sometimes it takes over a year to fully rehabilitate. But the good thing is we are seeing signs of progress, albeit small steps. But it is progress. Sean’s attitude is off the charts. He wants to rehab. He wants to be a great player. He is working hard to get there. He is making small progress, and as long as he is making progress, we will be patient with him and hopefully get him back at full speed at some point.”

If you have followed along with the updates on Spence, you can clearly see that the Steelers have accepted the fact that he will not be playing in 2013. Linebackers coach Keith Butler said during his talk with the media following the selection of Florida State inside linebacker Vince Williams in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL draft, that it would be a miracle if he ever plays again.

“I don’t think he is going to be, Butler said when asked if Spence would be ready to play in 2013. “It will be miraculous if he does come back. It will be miraculous if he comes back next year. We are going to take a chance on him and see if he can come back. To me, he is worth every bit of that.”

During the recent rookie camp, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was more positive with his remarks about Spence, the Steelers third round draft pick in 2012 out of Miami.

“I did hear the (Butler\’s)  opinion regarding Spence, my opinion differs,” said Tomlin. “I think he\’s going to have a full recovery, but now you have two opinions, neither of which are expert medical opinions, so do with it what you wish.”

It was reportedly early in the offseason that Spence had damage to his peroneal nerve, which is located on the outside part of the lower knee and is responsible for transmitting impulses to and from the leg, foot, and toes. When that nerve is damaged, the muscles may become weak and condition called foot drop, which is the inability to raise the foot upwards, can occur.

  • hergieburbur

    I feel bad for the kid, and hope he can recover. But all words other than the Tomlin PR Machine point to a very long road for him.

  • Tom

    This is simply a “wait and see” injury. You can be optimistic…or you can choose to be pessimistic. I choose to be optimistic. Plenty of people didn’t think Rocky Bleier would ever play again too.

  • dgh57

    Glad to hear Colberts view on things and that they were positive! That makes 2 positive votes verses 1 negative vote I’ve heard for Sean Spence! Nice to hear he’s working hard and wants to come back from this unfortunate injury! I say it’s a matter of WHEN not IF he will play again!

    Good luck Sean in your rehab Steelers Nation is pulling for you!!!

  • Michael Mazanowski

    It’s my understanding that there is a dorsiflex test which may determine diagnosis of foot drop. It is measured on a 0-5 scale that observes mobility. The lowest pt, 0, will determine complete paralysis and the highest pt, 5, which will determine complete mobility. Well, what does Spence have a 0 or a 5…1,2,3,4?

    I’ve also read where sometimes foot drop is temporary. Let’s just hope that is the case for Spence! I watched the play where he was injured and I didn’t think, at the time, it was as bad as it turned out to be! I thought he hyperextended his knee! He just landed so awkwardly!

  • If he makes it back to be solid enough for depth, it is a victory. I think we all embrace the young man’s determination. That is the Steelers way.

  • Michael Mazanowski


  • r4kolb

    Very well said Dr. Maz

  • Douglas Andrews

    Robert Edwards made it back to the NFL with the Patriots after a similar non football injury so hopefully we can add Sean Spence to the list of players who have fought back from this injury also!

  • mokhkw

    Still no confirmation that it is the Peroneal nerve that is the cause Dave?

  • mokhkw

    So he has foot drop? Caused by Peroneal nerve damage? Can you confirm this as I haven’t been able to find any specifics on Spence’s injury?

    As I’ve written before on this, I’ve had Peroneal nerve damage – it takes years to recover & you’re never the same again; 80-90% is the best you can hope for afaik. If that is the case, I can’t see how Spence will ever be an NFL player again but hope to hell he beats the odds.

  • John Hinton

    As a fan of Spence and our Steelers, this is encouraging to hear.

  • steeltown

    Rooting for this kid… and love how the Steelers are handling this, helping him and giving him every chance to fulfill his dreams.. instead of just casting him off. It also provides motivation and good vibes for the entire locker room

  • Michael Mazanowski

    I wish I could give you two thumbs up!

  • Tom

    Correct………Edwards injury was so severe that leg amputation was a real possibility.