2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Rookie Steelers LB Spence finding his way

    2012-05-24 21:47

(Eds: Corrects that Woodley and Timmons were taken with back-to-back picks in 2007 draft. With AP Photos.)
By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Sean Spence walked toward his locker during his first day as a Pittsburgh Steeler last month, saw the number hanging from the hook and couldn't quite believe it.

Did the Steelers really give him No. 51, the same number worn by longtime defensive captain James Farrior?

Yep.

``I didn't have a choice,'' Spence said.

Don't get him wrong. The rookie inside linebacker out of Miami (Fla.) is hardly complaining.

It's just he knows what No. 51 meant to the franchise over the last decade. All Farrior did in his 10 years with the Steelers was make a couple of Pro Bowls, help the franchise to a pair of Super Bowl victories while leading a unit annually among the best in the league.

No pressure or anything kid.

Spence is only too aware of Farrior's legacy and happily embraces it, though he also thinks trying to draw some kind of meaning out of being assigned Farrior's number is a stretch.

``I'm happy to have it but I think if they would have drafted another linebacker they would have got the same number,'' Spence said. ``Luckily they drafted me.''

Besides, the number is the only thing Spence and Farrior have in common at the moment.

First off, there's the hair.

Farrior, released by the team as part of a salary cap purge in the offseason, regularly shaved his head. Spence's helmet sits atop bushy dreadlocks.

Then, there's the body. At 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds, Spence is three inches and 15 pounds lighter than Farrior.

``Hey, I've never been the biggest guy in the room,'' Spence said with a shrug. ``I never let that bother me and I'm not going to let it happen now.''

Lastly, there's the resume. Spence doesn't even turn 22 until next month and while he was an All-ACC selection during his senior season with the Hurricanes, he knows that hardly compares to the remarkable 15-year run put together by Farrior.

It's why Spence saves the comparisons for others. Besides, he's got time. Spence will spend this season learning behind veterans Lawrence Timmons and Larry Foote while making contributions on special teams.

He doesn't view himself as an heir apparent. At this point he's just trying to absorb defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's complex 3-4 defense while trying to absorb all he can in meetings.

Asked if he speaks up when he's got a question, and Spence just laughs.

``I don't,'' he said with a shake of his head. ``I'm just listening right now. Just listening to those guys and laughing at them.''

While doing whatever he can during organized team activities to prove the Steelers made the right call when they took him with the 86th overall selection in the draft. Spence is small for a linebacker and downright tiny by Pittsburgh standards.

That's fine by Spence, who models his play after former Hurricanes star and current New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma. Like Vilma, Spence is a little undersized. Like Vilma, Spence hopes it doesn't matter.

``I know my speed is what helps me the most when I'm out there,'' Spence said. ``If you get yourself in the right position, it doesn't matter how big you are. You've just got to make the play.''

Spence is already turning heads. Foote took notice when he saw Spence wearing Farrior's old number but made a point to praise the way Spence has approached the job.

Foote knows it's difficult to replace a franchise fixture. It happens all the time in Pittsburgh and yet the Steelers continue to roll. Foote knows the Steelers don't draft linebackers without thinking they can thrive. This is the same team that selected Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley with back-to-back picks in 2007 and helped turn James Harrison from a practice squad player into a perennial All-Pro.

``A couple big shoes have been left yeah,'' Foote said. ``But I remember when Kimo (von Oelhoffen) left, when Joey Porter left, guys like that and you've got to give credit upstairs.''

Linebackers coach Keith Butler believes Spence's instincts should allow him to pick things up quickly. Maybe, but Spence isn't taking any chances. He has spent his first full week in Pittsburgh shuttling between the team's facility and his hotel room.

Besides, there's a big difference between the Southside and South Beach.

``It's not (Miami),'' Spence said.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Dennis KellyDec 20 03:32p

The Philadelphia Eagles have declared OT Dennis Kelly, WR Jeff Maehl, S Jerome Couplin III, OG Julian Vandervelde, QB Nick Foles, DE Taylor Hart, LB Trent Cole inactive for Week 16.

Leonard HankersonDec 20 03:12p

The Washington Redskins have declared CB Chibuikem Okoro, LB Gabe Miller, DL Jason Hatcher, OG Josh LeRibeus, LB Keenan Robinson, WR Leonard Hankerson inactive for Week 16.

Roy HeluDec 20 03:02p

Washington Redskins RB Roy Helu (toe) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20, against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Peyton ManningDec 19 07:42p

Updating a previous report, Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh) was officially limited in practice Friday, Dec. 19, but he threw more than he did than the day prior, [ More ]

Frank GoreDec 19 05:42p

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore (concussion) was limited in practice Friday, Dec. 19, and is questionable for Week 16.

Keenan AllenDec 19 04:42p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee) and WR Keenan Allen (shoulder, ankle) have been ruled out for Week 16 against the San Francisco 49ers.

Cam NewtonDec 19 04:12p

Updating previous reports, Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) has yet to officially be cleared to play in Week 16 against the Cleveland Browns, but head coach Ron Rivera [ More ]

T Y HiltonDec 19 02:32p

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) missed practice all week but is questionable for Week 16 against the Dallas Cowboys.

Peyton ManningDec 19 02:22p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh) was back to a full practice Friday, Dec. 19, after being limited Thursday, Dec. 18. Manning made several strong throws in the portion open to the media.

T Y HiltonDec 19 02:12p

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) missed practice again Friday, Dec. 19, and RTV6's Mike Chappell is convinced that Hilton will not play in Week 16 against the Dallas Cowboys.

C.J. SpillerDec 19 12:53p

Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder) has been added to the active roster and is probable for Week 16 against the Oakland Raiders.

Cam NewtonDec 19 12:52p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (back) is listed as probable for Week 16 against the Cleveland Browns.

Blake BortlesDec 19 12:12p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (foot) completed only 13 passes for 115 yards in the win over the Tennessee Titans Thursday, Dec. 18, but he didn't show any signs [ More ]

T Y HiltonDec 19 11:52a

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) is not participating in the portion of practice open to the media Friday, Dec. 19.

Julio JonesDec 19 11:22a

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is not participating in portion of practice open to the media Friday, Dec. 19.

DeMarco MurrayDec 19 10:52a

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand) is likely to play in Week 16, according to a source. Murray has a high threshold for pain, and according to the source, [ More ]

Eddie LacyDec 19 10:12a

Green Bay Packers RB Eddie Lacy (eye) said he wasn't able to read a teammate's nameplate a few feet away in the locker room Thursday, Dec. 18. Lacy said [ More ]

Leon WashingtonDec 18 11:32p

Tennessee Titans RB Leon Washington caught a team-high seven passes for 62 yards and a touchdown in the team's 21-13 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars Thursday, Dec. 18. He [ More ]

Philip RiversDec 18 11:22p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) looked good throwing the ball in the practice Thursday, Dec. 18, according to head coach Mike McCoy. 'Philip had an outstanding day,' [ More ]

Peyton ManningDec 18 07:22p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning (thigh, illness) said his illness is behind him, and he was receiving treatment for his thigh Thursday, Dec. 18. Head coach John Fox called Manning day-to-day.

Roy MillerDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Tommy StreeterDec 18 07:12p

The Jacksonville Jaguars have declared DL Andre Branch, CB Jeremy Harris, SS Matt Daniels, DL Roy Miller, CB Teddy Williams, WR Tommy Streeter, OG Tyler Shatley inactive for Week 16.

Kendall WrightDec 18 07:12p

Tennessee Titans WR Kendall Wright (hand) is active for Week 16 after being limited in practice all week.

Frank GoreDec 18 07:02p

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore (concussion) continues through the concussion protocol this week, but head coach Jim Harbaugh anticipates Gore suiting up in Week 16 against the San [ More ]

Julius ThomasDec 18 06:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) played just 29 snaps in Week 15; only ten of them were pass routes, according to Pro Football Focus.

Rashad JenningsDec 18 06:12p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

Carlos HydeDec 18 05:52p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) did not practice Thursday, Dec. 18.

DeAndre HopkinsDec 18 05:42p

Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Dec. 18.

Blake BortlesDec 18 04:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles has earned positive reviews from the team in his rookie season after being thrust into the spotlight early this year. 'That is not the [ More ]

Jay CutlerDec 18 04:12p

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler was benched just for this week against the Detroit Lions, according to head coach Marc Trestman. Cutler will be active and serve as the [ More ]

DeAngelo WilliamsDec 18 04:02p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (hand) will be fitted cast that he can play with on his injured hand. Williams still has not caught a pass with the injured [ More ]

Rashad JenningsDec 18 04:02p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (ankle) has not been able to do any running this week, according to head coach Tom Coughlin.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group