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Gerry Dulac: Sean Spence “Significantly Ahead” Of Schedule


Many people have commented on the release of veteran inside linebacker Larry Foote over the past couple days. Earlier, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac examined the release through the prism of how it relates to Sean Spence.

In a blog post headed “What does Foote’s departure mean for Sean Spence?”, Dulac writes that “the peroneal nerve has regenerated and Spence is significantly ahead of where the Steelers thought he would be at this point”.

Other venues have picked up on this angle in order to fuel speculation that Foote’s departure was really more about how the Pittsburgh Steelers are leaning toward Spence, but that is an undue conclusion based on the available data.

In reality, Dulac’s update is not a departure from what we already knew. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was nearly glowing with enthusiasm about how encouraged the staff was of Spence’s single practice while he was able to do so on the Physically Unable to Perform list during the season before breaking his finger.

He has spoken about this multiple times already during the offseason, mostly due to the fact that he is asked questions regarding Spence. But the enthusiasm could be as much Colbert speaking to Spence through the media and offering encouragement.

Reports have steadily remained positive and on the upswing, but the simple fact of the matter is that there will be no meaningful progress of any kind in his bid for a return until he actually begins to practice in earnest. Even minicamps may not offer a proper glimpse into the prospect of his return.

To that end, Dulac was quick to point out, as is always the case in any article pertaining to Spence, that “because of the unstable nature of the nerve, it is still too early to determine if he is healthy enough to play in 2014”.

According to Dulac, one of two things could very well happen. Either the Steelers will enter free agency seeking an inside linebacker with starting experience to compete with Vince Williams, or they could add an inside linebacker in the draft—C.J. Mosley being that candidate. Dulac writes that the Steelers believe they might have to find an inside linebacker early in the draft due to the lack of depth available in later rounds.

In other words, the Steelers will proceed as though Spence is not in the picture, which is what we have been saying all along. With Williams and Terence Garvin, there are some pieces with which to move forward.

While it’s nice to read that he appears to be progressing nicely—and Dulac’s report may have been the most positive of all—there quite simply is nothing to know about Spence’s future until this Summer.

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About Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Ken

    I am big Sean Spence fan and I hope he comes back at any point. Gerry’s comments about being a head of schedule is silly though. The guy has been out two years. At this point you don’t say he is a head or behind, you just hope he comes back.

  • Iron Cadet

    Anyone follow him on Instagram? I heard be packed on a lot of muscle and is way bigger

  • DoctorNoah

    Dulac just fueling speculation here. Even if Spence returned to perfect physical form, he still has no game experience, would be trying to lock down one of the most important positions on the defense, and would be asked to do more intellectually and physically than he’s ever been asked to do. If he doesn’t have foot drop, (i.e. is walking and practicing without a brace to hold his ankle up and prevent his foot dragging) his peroneal nerve is just fine. Nothing will substitute for the time and experience he’s lost, I just hope he might be able to apply what he’s learned about the defense when he gets a chance to get on the field…

    Weakness at ILB when Foote went down changed the complexion of our season more than the loss of Pouncey. We struggled mightily, eventually placing Polamalu in a glorified ILB position, which stripped our CB’s of the over-the-top help they normally had and limited Troy’s roving playmaking abilities. We could rarely play out of our base defense.

    I wouldn’t be shocked if we made a play for Mosley. We have too many holes to patch to lose picks by trading up, and he’s unlikely to be there at 1-15, but, who knows.

  • steelster

    his bigger concern is the nerve damage in his knee, no player in the nfl has come back from his type of injury but he may be the first. I wouldn’t get your hopes up too high on him.

  • Iron Cadet

    Obviously the nerve damage is the concern. He hasn’t been on ir for 2 years so that he could add muscle. But you’re a glass is half empty kind of guy aren’t ya?

  • sean mcmartin

    It would be great if spence can compete in training camp this year. and win a starting job..

  • WilliamSekinger

    From Twitter about 25 minutes ago:

    Adam Schefter@AdamSchefter

    Steelers WR Antonio Brown
    restructured his contract and freed up $4 million worth of cap space for
    Pittsburgh, per league source.

  • Callentown

    The latest mocks have Mosley sliding into the teens for the first time. Not that those mean anything. But since Gilbert seems to be going to Detroit at 10 (again, according to mocks), if Mosley is there, he may be the best value combined with need for us.

    Having Spence recover and join the group would just be a bonus at this point. Btw, we don’t seem to have great luck with the 3rd rounders in the draft. Seeya C. Brown..

  • Paddy

    I don’t pay attention to Gerry Dulac, unreliable

  • Justin Barlow

    What I struggle with here is, what happens if we invest a high pick in a CJ Mosely, and Spence emerges as well?

    It seems more practical to hedge and bring in a veteran to compete with Spence and Vince Williams such as a Jon Beason, Karlos Dansby, or my personal favorite, Daryl Smith from Baltimore. Any one of these guys can buy us at least a year or two to figure out what we have in Spence and recover if necessary.

    Employing this strategy also allows us to focus on areas where we have no such possible contributors in the developmental pipeline (red zone WR, 2nd young safety to pair w Sharko). Just seems like you are giving up on him if you draft ILB in R1

  • steelster

    just trying to be realistic

  • Douglas Andrews

    There have been a few players that have come back from the same injury. Garrison Hearst and Robert Edwards are a couple. Both of them were able to continue there career. It’s still a nasty injury either way so if Spence is ahead of schedule I’d call that a minor miracle.

  • 804Stiller

    I agree. I’d rather get one of those corners or the safety if they drop. With Williams, Spence, Jones, Worilds and Garvin, at least we have turned the position over as far as youth. Though, I’m not as pressed to draft a big WR as most. I’d be happy with almost all of our picks being on the defensive side of the ball.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Wow this is great news. If Spence is able to even play ST’s it’s almost like we got another 3rd round draft pick this year. Even more importantly I’m happy for Sean S. he seems like a great guy and he’s remained positive the whole time. I been rooting for this guy the whole time he’s been injured.

  • gene mann

    I think they will look @ adding a veteran ILB via FA too

  • MailboxKid

    I wouldn’t normally believe a player could fully come back from such an injury…
    But there is something about Spence that makes me believe he simply won’t be denied. A man that determined I never bet against.

  • SteelerDave

    He reminds me of Rocky

  • westcoasteeler

    Easy. We’re all Steeler fans. Did you not read what Ken wrote 9 hours ago? Spence has been out two years how is that ahead of schedule? I hope he comes back and am proud of how loyal the Steelers have been to him. But what kind of schedule is he on?
    FYI- my glass is full of beer

  • Nolrog

    >>> What I struggle with here is, what happens if we invest a high pick in a CJ Mosely, and Spence emerges as well? Having too many good players is an awesome problem to have. It gives them a tremendous number of options. I hope this happens.

  • Virdin Barzey

    If you look at our history we generally don’t keep injured guys around for too long. Much less an injured guy who has yet to play a down in the regular season. The real question is what do the Steelers see in Spence that they would keep him that long?

    Folks are talking about Spence recovery as being hard to believe. Are the Steelers that dopey to put hope in a guys that realistically will never be the same? Would they do all of that for a guy who will be a backup?

    I don’t have the answers and I’m curious as the next man but if I had to choose, I’m hedging my bet that the Steelers know what they are doing over a few guys speculating on a website. Not hating, just stating.

    Sorry to dash anyone’s hope but Mosely will be gone before he drops to us.

  • steelster

    yes, but what kind of beer

  • steelster

    wasn’t hines ward a third rounder

  • Justin Barlow

    Well sure but at what cost? If we stay very thin at WR, CB, S, and DE but we are loaded at ILB what good does it do us?

  • Callentown

    Indeed – second 3rd rounder in 1998. We also hit on: Joey Porter, Max Starks, Mike Wallace and Keenan Lewis.

    But for 3rd rounders, we’ve had far more misses: Hank Poteat, Kris Farris, Chris Hope, Trai Essex, Willie Reid, Bruce Davis, Curtis Brown and Sean Spence (inj.).

    I left a couple off these lists who have been good-not-great (i.e. Matt Spaeth), but the 3rd pick should have a higher success-rate than this IMO.

  • Iron Cadet

    No hostility here brah. But feel free to share some beer.

  • westcoasteeler

    Huntington Beach Blonde! A neighbor brewed it on his porch. IBU’s a plenty!

  • westcoasteeler

    Iron, most def! Sharing is caring!

  • steelster

    not so sure mosely will be gone, who do you think will pick him

  • moonunit1

    Vince Williams had no game experience, neither did Kion Wilson, but that’s what we were stuck with last year as starters. Spence was actually looking like a 1st year starter before the injury. It’ll be interesting to see how he comes back, same as Lattimore from SF. But we are super thin at that one spot, yet probably cant afford a 1st round pick there when you have Timmons in a 50 mil contract, Woodley in a 60 mil contract, Worilds approaching a 40-50 mil contract, and Jarvis playing for 1st round money. Just no way you make it to C2 with those young guys when you have 10m a year salaries with the other guys.

  • Iron Cadet

    hope its some iron city haha. but all i was asking in my original post is if anyone had seen recent sean spence pics cuz i heard he packed on muscle. and i know he is training hard with some other nfl guys cuz he posts it on twitter

  • westcoasteeler

    I looked but I didn’t see any photos. I hope he’s ready to make an impact. Instantly!

  • Iron Cadet

    We all do brother

  • Virdin Barzey

    Its a copy cat league. Look for more teams to go defensive. Minnesota comes to mind. That defense is decimated.

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