I don't think there is any way that Spence will start at ILB for the Steelers, this year, unless everyone else gets hurt. I liked Spence's potential as well as anyone, but he is still unproven as a player in the NFL. He played only in preseason games. He did OK. He wasn't kicking rear ends, then, exactly. Coming off that severe of an injury, the Steelers will be cautious will how much work they give him. He would have to be twice better than anyone else, Shazier or Williams, in camp and preseason, to be given consideration to start. Even if that were to happen, which I don't think it will. I still think the Steelers would be reticent about thrusting him into a starting role. Personally, I think Shazier will have to screw up terribly to not get that starting nod.
There's gotta be some rust with Spence having not played in 2 years.. I doubt he starts over the 1st rounder. Both guys will have to get adjust to the NFL game.. Maybe Spence gets caught up a little faster, but I still think Shazier gets the bulk of the work.
I can't wait for the ILB's battle it out in training camp. Spence, Shazier and Vince Williams. You could even throw Garvin and Moats into the equation although I doubt those 2 have any chance of starting.
1) Shazier has the advantage of being a 1st round pick with exceptional athleticism. Until I see it, I question his ability to fight thru blocks.
2) I think Spence has the advantage in instincts and the ability to diagnose plays quickly on the inside (great LB vision). He's also a film room nut so I'm sure after 2 years of being injured, the playbook is not an issue. Clearly, his injury is a huge question mark.
3) Williams clearly has the advantage of being a starter last year. His biggest downfall is his athleticism and being a liability in pass coverage. He seems intelligent and highly motivated to win that starting job.
Witness the next great Steelers linebackers corps
By Jeff.Hartman on May 23 2014
The Pittsburgh Steelers have always been known for their talented linebackers. Become witness to the next great group this season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers as an organization have always been known for their linebackers. If Penn State University is called "Linebacker U", the Steelers would be the NFL equivalent. Dating back to the Chuck Noll era, the Steelers have always boasted one of the best linebacking corps in the league.
In the 70s it were greats like Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, and Andy Russell. Who can forget the "Blitzburgh" linebackers of the early to mid-90s in Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, Chad Brown and Levon Kirkland? When that group looked to be the best 3-4 linebacking group ever, the 2000s boasted some reputable units. Players like Joey Porter, Jason Gildon, James Farrior, Larry Foote, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley and even Lawrence Timmons didn't disappoint.
Its now 2014 and we are on the verge of the next great group of Steelers linebackers. A great mix of veterans and youth, this unit very well could be next in the great line of linebacker lineage. With the starting linebackers most likely to be Jarvis Jones and Jason Worilds on the outside, with a combination of Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams and Terrance Garvin next to him.
This year's unit might not be comparable to those all-time units, but that doesn't mean we aren't seeing the beginning of that journey taking place in front of our very eyes. There are a lot of questions to be answered, but the raw talent is there across the board.
Jarvis Jones is entering his second season after a very disappointing rookie campaign, but I ask the question "Which Steelers outside linebacker played that much as a rookie and performed like a veteran?" None come to mind. Jones is on schedule for a breakout season in 2014, and that will help free up Jason Worilds on the opposite side. Worilds is a wild card in some fans' minds, but to me last season wasn't a fluke, but just a taste of what is to come. Worilds has always possessed the ability to rush off the edge, and now that the job is his from the start, expect big things from Jason Worilds in 2014.
The inside linebacker position has almost the same amount of uncertainty, but there is always Lawrence Timmons. The quiet linebacker that lets his play do the talking is one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL. Who plays along side him will be the determining factor in whether this unit is complete, or left with a missing piece to the puzzle. Ryan Shazier will be that player, maybe not as a rookie, but long term it will be his job on the inside.
The Steelers have always been able to find those linebackers that can come in and get the job done. Worilds was one of those guys, Jones was drafted to be the same and now Shazier is the next in line. In my opinion, this unit has the speed, athleticism and raw talent to be one of the best units the Steelers have ever seen.
I hope they don't rush him back.
Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go...
Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go...
Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go...!!!
It's a great story if he makes it back. He didn't injure his brain, and his knowledge and instincts are intact. Hope his body holds up and he is able to show his strengths.