The Steelers got linebacker Sean Spence back at practice for a few weeks last fall, a significant step forward for a player who had not been on a field since a catastrophic knee injury in the 2012 preseason.
Spence went back on injured reserve to end the season, but that didn’t slow the momentum of his comeback too much. Spence has been given full medical clearance to participate in OTAs, minicamp and training camp, leaving coach Mike Tomlin to say that the team “can’t wait to watch him take the next step in this process, which is play football.” Tomlin also said that he didn’t think the 2012 third-round pick would be starting from square one despite his extended absence from the lineup.
“I don’t think that we’ll start from scratch,” Tomlin said, via the team’s website. “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. I think that’s to be determined with how he performs and plays, but he’s been given a clean bill of health and we’ll go from there.”
Spence’s return to the field in any capacity is a major achievement given the severity of tearing your ACL and LCL, dislocating your kneecap and suffering nerve damage in your first summer as an NFL player. If he’s able to become a contributor on defense as well it would be an unexpected bonus for the Steelers.