2013 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

Matt FlynnApr 16 10:01a

Green Bay Packers QB Matt Flynn is expected to compete with QB Scott Tolzien for the backup quarterback job, but head coach Mike McCarthy anticipates keeping three QBs on [ More ]

Rolando McClainApr 16 12:03a

Retired LB Rolando McClain (Ravens) worked out for the Baltimore Ravens Tuesday, April 15, as he attempts a comeback. The workout wasn't a smooth one in terms of conditioning, [ More ]

Chris JohnsonApr 16 12:03a

The New York Jets are sticking to their budget/value system. While they want free-agent RB Chris Johnson (Titans), they will not 'overpay' for him. The depressed running back market [ More ]

Aldon SmithApr 16 12:03a

San Francisco 49ers LB Aldon Smith hasn't only lost the benefit of the doubt with the team, but he probably won't play with the team in 2014, according to [ More ]

Malcom FloydApr 15 11:53p

San Diego Chargers WR Malcom Floyd (neck) continues his rehab from a neck injury, but his status is still uncertain. When the team begins voluntary workouts April 22, Floyd [ More ]

Chris JohnsonApr 15 07:53p

Free-agent RB Chris Johnson's (Titans) visit with the New York Jets reportedly went well Tuesday, April 15, but he left without a deal. Other teams are involved with him, too.

Rolando McClainApr 15 07:53p

The Baltimore Ravens worked out LB Rolando McClain, and it reportedly wasn't a success. McClain didn't finish his conditioning test and didn't perform drills.

Terrell ManningApr 15 05:43p

The Minnesota Vikings claimed LB Terrell Manning off waivers from the San Diego Chargers Tuesday, April 15.

Adam PodleshApr 15 05:13p

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed free-agent P Adam Podlesh (Bears) to an undisclosed one-year deal Tuesday, April 15.

Allen ReisnerApr 15 03:53p

The Minnesota Vikings announced Tuesday, April 15, that they've signed free-agent TE Allen Reisner (Jaguars) to an undisclosed deal.

Daniel KilgoreApr 15 03:23p

San Francisco 49ers OG Daniel Kilgore was found not guilty of public intoxication related to his arrest in January in Tennessee. His case was dismissed following his appearance in [ More ]

Matt FlynnApr 15 02:23p

The Green Bay Packers agreed to terms on an undisclosed deal to re-sign QB Matt Flynn Tuesday, April 15, according to a source.

Dion JordanApr 15 01:53p

Miami Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey is expecting big things from DE Dion Jordan in his second season this year. He's a very talented player and this is a [ More ]

Brandon LloydApr 15 01:33p

The San Francisco 49ers signed free-agent WR Brandon Lloyd (Patriots) to an undisclosed deal Tuesday, April 15.

Chris JohnsonApr 15 12:23p

The Buffalo Bills have shown some interest in signing free-agent RB Chris Johnson (Titans), according to sources.

Duron HarmonApr 15 10:57a

New England Patriots SS Duron Harmon is the leading candidate to take over as the Patriots' top strong safety now that Steve Gregory has been released.

Eli ManningApr 15 10:23a

Former New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said it's 'ludicrous' to think that Giants QB Eli Manning is in decline. 'There's been no deterioration of his arm strength, [ More ]

Chris JohnsonApr 15 09:33a

The New York Jets are visiting with free-agent RB Chris Johnson (Titans) Tuesday, April 15.

Will MontgomeryApr 14 11:52p

The Denver Broncos' offseason conditioning program begins Monday, April 21. It's not known whether C Will Montgomery or C Manuel Ramirez will start at center.

Sidney RiceApr 14 11:52p

The Carolina Panthers might show an interest in free-agent WR Sidney Rice (Seahawks), but only at the right price.

Manuel RamirezApr 14 11:52p

The Denver Broncos' offseason conditioning program begins Monday, April 21. It remains unclear whether OT Orlando Franklin, OG Ben Garland or C Manuel Ramirez will be the team's left guard.

Terrell ManningApr 14 05:32p

The San Diego Chargers have released LB Terrell Manning.

Nate IrvingApr 14 05:12p

Denver Broncos LB Nate Irving appears to be the leading candidate to start at middle linebacker at this time, but the team is expected to select a middle linebacker during the 2014 NFL Draft.

Leon HallApr 14 04:12p

Cincinnati Bengals CB Leon Hall (Achilles') has been cleared for all football drills as part of his rehab.

Jamarca SanfordApr 14 04:12p

Minnesota Vikings SS Kurt Coleman will likely be a contributor on special teams this year and enter the year competing with SSs Jamarca Sanford and Andrew Sendejo for a backup safety spot.

Dustin KellerApr 14 03:42p

The New England Patriots could show interest in free-agent TE Dustin Keller (Dolphins) at some point this offseason.

Jermichael FinleyApr 14 03:32p

Updating a previous report, the Miami Dolphins have told the agent of free-agent TE Jermichael Finley (neck) that they could be interested in signing Finley if he is cleared [ More ]

Von MillerApr 14 03:32p

Denver Broncos LB Von Miller (knee) said his surgically repaired knee is feeling good and hopes to play better than he did before he suffered his injury. 'I'm a [ More ]

Kurt ColemanApr 14 03:22p

The Minnesota Vikings have agreed to terms with free-agent SS Kurt Coleman (Eagles). Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Sidney RiceApr 14 02:52p

Free-agent WR Sidney Rice (knee) has been cleared to participate in football activities by Dr. James Andrews, according to a source. The Seattle Seahawks, New York Giants, New Orleans [ More ]

Chris CulliverApr 14 02:22p

San Francisco 49ers CB Chris Culliver has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor hit-and-run charges and felony possession of brass knuckles. Culliver was arrested March 28 for allegedly hitting a [ More ]

C.J. SpillerApr 14 01:12p

The Philadelphia Eagles tried to land Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller before they traded for RB Darren Sproles this offseason, according to two league sources familiar with the situation. [ More ]

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