The Pittsburgh Steelers had high hopes of turning the ILB half of their 3-4 defense into a force to be reckoned with when they drafted Sean Spence in the 2012 draft. That came to a complete halt when Spence suffered a brutal knee injury in the final preseason game that same year – his career in peril. But, as the 2012 and 2013 seasons unfolded, Steeler Nation has come to realize that it wasn’t so much a dead halt as much as it was just pressing the pause button on the future of the Steelers 3-4 defense. The 2014 season is right around the corner, and things are looking up regarding the state of ILB.
Steelers Depot reported on Saturday that Sean Spence was seen working out down at Bommarito Performance Systems earlier in the week – a place he’s frequented in years past. Nothing new about that, it’s always encouraging to hear progress about the young LB. Spence’s recovery has been long and arduous, but he appears within very close reach of returning some time in 2014. Kevin Colbert was also quoted earlier this week saying, “He’s certainly going to be in the mix as a possibility…” while answering questions about Spence’s time table.
There’s no question that Spence has heart and drive (and talent), so it appears that the only thing preventing Spence from performing a complete return from injury and pave the way to a long and successful career would be the physical limitations with that knee. Even if Spence is not ready things are not yet at despair level if the Steelers decide to part ways with the long toothed Larry Foote. Vince Williams and Terence Garvin performed very well for the Steelers when Foote was shelved on the IR after tearing his bicep.
In a bit of a rare situation, the Steelers could have three young ILB’s vying for the starting roll at ILB and the right to play next to fellow ILB Lawrence Timmons and call the plays for the defense. And this Steeler fan isn’t worried one bit. While there are many questions and concerns regarding the secondary, OLB, and defensive line, I’m taking heart in knowing that the Steelers will have two quality starters and solid depth at ILB when training camp is said and done.
It’s difficult to be patient with Spence’s return. Who doesn’t want to see this kid do some special things on that football field after all he’s been through? Steeler Nation has been starving for playmakers of the splash play variety for almost two seasons now. If, Spence can play at the high level he’s always been expected to play at, Steeler fans should get just that. Williams and Garvin can and will provide steady backup as they continue to improve as well. One can’t also help but think that if the Steelers can ditch the dead WEIGHT to the tune of releasing LaMarr Woodley, get Worilds to re-sign, and keep Jarvis Jones progressing nicely, the Steelers will have a very strong linebacker quartet for at least the next few years.
Yes indeed, things are looking up for the Steelers at the ILB position. So, at least the defense has that going for them as they look to the draft and filling the major holes in the roster.