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.