A little over a year ago, Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler was asked to weigh in on inside linebacker Sean Spence, who had suffered a very serious knee injury during the 2012 pre season finale. Butler’s comments at that time weren’t very encouraging.
“It will be miraculous if he does come back. It will be miraculous if he comes back next year,” said Butler of Spence, the Steelers 2012 third-round draft pick out of a Miami. “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.”
On Saturday, Butler again updated Spence’s condition when he talked to the media about the selection of inside linebacker Jordan Zumwalt in the sixth-round by the Steelers and this time his outlook was a much more positive one.
“From what I’ve seen on the field, I know I said about a year or two ago that it would be miraculous if he came back, and I hope he proves me wrong. It is getting really close to being miraculous,” said Butler. “He looks real good to me. We will see how the knee holds up when he starts hitting and things like that. Right now I’m real encouraged by the way he looks. He is such an exceptional young man and you hope that it works out for him, and I think it will.”
Should Spence wind up being able to complete his comeback over the course of the summer, his chances of contributing on defense as a starter in 2014 took a big hit when the Steelers drafted Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier Thursday night in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. On top of that, the selection of Zumwalt on Saturday added yet another player that Spence will have to beat out in training camp.
The Steelers rookie mini camp will get underway this coming Thursday and being as Spence missed the last two seasons, one would think that he will be allowed to attend and participate. There’s been no confirmation of that, however, so we’ll have to wait and see if that is indeed the case.
Spence had reportedly been working out most of the offseason in Florida without limitations, so by next weekend the Steelers coaches might have an even better idea as to whether or not he’ll be a serious contender during training camp for a roster spot. With all of these inside linebacker bodies now on the offseason roster, Butler will certainly be busy sorting through all of them.
“Great competition at the inside linebacker position, we are going to have some,” said Butler.