Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Sean Spence was given an extremely difficult assignment.
The Steelers signed him in early December, after inside linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered career threatening spinal injury during a Monday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Spence hadn’t played in a game since he was released by the Indianapolis Colts in early October, and it was obvious he hadn’t played football in a while during his first game with the Steelers this season.
Against the Baltimore Ravens he struggled mightily, but has gradually improved since that game. Spence recently explained why it took some time to find his footing with the Steelers.
“Because I hadn’t played,” Spence said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Chris Adamski. “I knew the system well, but actually having to tackle someone for the first time on a Sunday night? It was pretty tough. And not having shoulder pads and a helmet on for two months, and then to put it on for the first time on a Sunday and in a huge rivalry game like that? It’s pretty tough. But now I feel better. It showed me what I need to work on.”
Spence is familiar with the system because he was drafted by the Steelers in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, but didn’t see any game action until 2014 because of injuries during his first two seasons. The last time he was on the roster was during the 2015 season.
Spence obviously can’t replace Shazier who is one of the best linebackers in the NFL. However, if he can simply be an effective player, he can prove to be a difference maker when the playoffs begin.