Steelers HC Mike Tomlin Says LB Sean Spence Is Healthy And Working

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin held their annual pre draft press conference on Monday and during it they were asked to update the status of inside linebacker Sean Spence, who is still trying to battle back from a serious knee injury suffered in the 2012 preseason finale.

“He’s healthy and working, so we cant wait, obviously, to watch him take the next step in this process which is obviously play football,” said Tomlin.

Even though Spence hasn’t played since injuring his knee, Tomlin doesn’t think they are starting over with him.

“I don’t think were starting from scratch,” said Tomlin of Spence. “These haven’t been empty days for him since he’s been here with the rehabilitation process and what he’s been able to do in terms of learning our system of football. I’m not going to assume that he’s starting from ground zero, no.”

Tomlin says he’s not sure yet whether or not Spence’s knee is back to where it was prior to the injury, however.

“I think that’s yet to be determined with how he performs and plays, but he’s been given a clean bill of heath and we’ll go from there,” he said.

Spence was drafted in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Miami.

  • dkoy85

    Anxious to see him practice.

  • Jacque Strappe

    Great news.

  • Jason Brant

    What an incredible comeback. I’m really pulling for this guy.

  • srdan

    Great news. Now lets keep it going.

  • srdan

    Just a thought:

    Is it possible that spence’s 2 years away served him to learn the playbook, scheme and work on upper body strength. Since he didn’t get the mileage on his legs over the last couple years, could this possibly add a year or two to the tail end of his career. Speed for him to play linebacker will never be an issue.

    I know I am thinking far out for someone htat hasn’t played a down yet, but I’m really pulling for this kid.

  • William Weaver

    Good question. Does time off for injury save that year for later or is the injury year lost because of the damage done outweighs the year off? If he came into the league and you knew his future was retirement in year 2021 did the injury put that off until 2022 or make it 2018? I would guess 2018 but I don’t know. Interesting to think about. A dr I guess would say it is a case by case situation?

  • Jacque Strappe

    I wonder even more if they feel strongly enough about his return that it falls down the “position of need” chart this weekend.

  • 804Stiller

    Agreed. I guess the other side of that would be rust, lack of contact and getting accustomed to NFL speed. He did play all through camp and had some preseason work. He know his assignments. But, man, 2 years is a long time to be away from the field…………..Spence, Wheaton and Arnfelt/Nick Williams development could really change the complexion of this team. What an infusion of youth, speed and athleticism that would be. I’ve always felt the development of our 2nd year guys along with Spence are equally as important as this year’s draft.

  • srdan

    Good point. And to what extent? Listening to dave and dave they are saying that we could use another gunner. Can he alleviate some of that pressure or do they stick to his primary position?

    Lets assume best case scenario that he makes this team, it’s crazy to think how our LB core got really young and promising in 2 years. 2 years ago Potsy, TImm, harrison and wood. Today, Timm needs an AARP card compared ot the others.

  • srdan

    No doubt about it there will be some rust. But in todays NFL it seems like there are no starters on defense, its all subpackage football. And i think that its easier to get someone on the field that is rusty through subpackage foorball. Find what he exceled at in college and let him do it 10 plays a game until he gets use to the speed and gains confidence again. But I couldn’t agree more, its impossible to replace gametime as a training tool.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    Hope the best for the kid.

  • Toddy Bravo

    I’ll buy that. I’m all for taking a positive approach when it comes to Spence.

  • Toddy Bravo

    If Spence makes this team and plays well, it may just be the best Steeler comeback story since Rocky Bleier.

  • Biggie

    Really looking forward to seeing what he can do come TC. Hope he is able to make the roster and contribute. He’s worked really hard to get back.

  • MailboxKid

    Just a thought: what if the steelers knew someone behind them was looking to trade ahead of them for Mosley. Could be a smoke screen. It’s a long shot but still a thought.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    Can’t wait to see him play his first down, after all that work i’m sure it’d feel incredible

  • Kevin Gobleck

    I think the fact that he is still unproven, and coming off a major injury would deter the idea of a smoke screen in this case

  • Andrew

    rooting for #51

  • Steelers12328882

    Glad to hear he’s healthy, but I’ll definitely cringe every time I see him make a cut or get blocked below the waist.

  • AL252

    The good news is surgically repaired knees tend to be stronger than they were previously.

  • 20Stoney

    Me too. Hope he is not only healthy, but has retained his burst. To me that is what really made him look special.

  • Virdin Barzey

    That’s all good but he now has to get into game shape. The thing I’m most excited about is to see what they believe in this kid to keep him the team. Guess him and Vince Williams will be going at it.

  • Smokin_Smiley

    hes been working hard to come back all this year and some of last hes pretty close to game shape now and this kid has mega football smarts…..predicting he will start opposite Timmons in passing situations and might even take job outright by season end

  • Smokin_Smiley

    watch out williams

  • Lucus Rodriguez

    I wont, part of him being medically cleared to play means that he is ready to make cuts and get hit. I will not cringe anymore with him than I would any Steeler player.

  • very good news

  • Douglas Andrews

    I always hear former players claim that the more reps they take in practice and the beating during games tends to shorten their careers. I’m sure from the physical standpoint the time off for Spence should aid in prolonging his career but I just wonder what the 2 years off has done for his mental side of the game. Does he still read and react the same? He should know the playbook/scheme inside out by now so it’s gonna be interesting to see him get on the field/ practice. I’m really hoping he makes it all the way back and becomes a playmaker but time will tell.

  • ApexSteel

    It depends on what kind of player/person he is. Some people have to learn how to do things by actually doing them so it all depends on how good he is at taking mental reps. If he can’t then he’s in the same (or possibly worse) position than he was two years ago.

  • steelster

    The steelers have had a lot of young players get injured over the past few years. More than I can ever remember. Is this just bad luck or something else such as poor training and conditioning or players coming into the draft before they are ready. The spence injury is probably the one that hurt the most.

  • MC

    Good assumption. I’m sure he’d know the playbook like the back of his hand now which is great but nothing gets you prepared for the game like practice reps and an actual game. At least he will have all the assignments down so his think-to-do on the field is minimilised. He will definitely take some time to get acustomed to the physical element of the game again though, especialy since he didn’t see the field in a regular season game.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Lots of people have praying for this guy for quite some time. I hope it works out for him and can make a few bucks in the NFL. Used to hit like a truck, and I’m hoping he can still move well laterally. If it works out, he may still one day form a great interior LB unit with Timmons. Of course, this would certainly be great news for the Steelers,

  • Steelers12328882

    Where did you hear that? I’m no doctor but common sense would tell me he’s more susceptible to knee injuries than someone who hasn’t suffered a knee injury. They’re ligaments, not bones.

  • DoctorNoah

    I was wondering why no one had ever brought up Rocky Bleier in reference to Spence. He spent a few years coming back from his war injury (and I think he was actually waived) before he made it onto the active roster. And of course, it took James Harrison a while to see the field for the Steelers, but that wasn’t because of injury. Hey, even Worilds spent three years sitting on his butt before seeing any meaningful playing time…


    I don’t think it worked that way for James Harrison.


    I wish him all the best for purely selfish reasons. If he can pull this off, can he wear number 20 as a LB? Rocky Spence.

  • steelster

    That would be special.

  • ApexSteel

    To be fair James Harrison was actually playing football though.

  • Virdin Barzey

    hope you are right

  • Patrick Reid

    I must say that as a proud Steeler fan that this has been great. The most positive, constructive,responses and well wishes that I have ever heard. I am really pulling for this kid. I think that he will really help us in the future. Starting on Special Teams to get acclamated to game speed. Then as a contributer in our Defensive scheme. Loved him coming out of college. I think that he can bring alot, of what Shazier would bring too us on D. And I am really high on Shazier. God Bless you Sean Spence and I hope you have a complete recovery. Here We Go steelers, Here we Go!!!

  • srdan

    That is true. I remember cars like its my job. I can tell you every car that anyone I know has driven.. Sometimes they forget and I remind them of their old cars. But you ask me to remember a phone number, and unless you look like Vida Guerra i’ll probably forget. What I’m trying to say is that we are not all the same. Whats good for one, is not going to work for the other.

  • SfSteeler

    aarp, haha…my question is, have they put him thru any specific field test on the knee, ie. cone drills, or the dreaded 40 time?

    just so we know as much as we can about his recovery…

  • Lucus Rodriguez

    most players come back with stronger knees after surgery not the other way around. Its extremely rare to see a guy have two ACL surgeries

  • Steelers12328882

    hmmm, so now I’ve seen conflicting reports. What a surprise lol. Cheers!

  • Steelers12328882

    I’ve read differently.