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

Dane FletcherMay 27 02:33a

Free-agent LB Dane Fletcher (Buccaneers) has returned to the New England Patriots on a one-year contract.

Devonta FreemanMay 26 09:53p

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman worked with the first-team offense during organized team activities Tuesday, May 26.

Charles SimsMay 26 05:33p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Charles Sims has a solid chance of beating out RB Doug Martin for Tampa Bay's starting running back gig, according to Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com.

A.J. JenkinsMay 26 01:02p

Free-agent WR A.J. Jenkins (Chiefs) signed an undisclosed deal with the Dallas Cowboys Tuesday, May 26, according to a source. Jenkins was the 30th overall pick by the San [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMay 26 08:43a

Updating an ongoing story, the Dallas Cowboys have moved on from the idea of trading for Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, despite persistent rumors, according to The Dallas Morning [ More ]

A.J. McCarronMay 25 10:37p

Cincinnati Bengals QB AJ McCarron (shoulder) is healthy and hoping to push QB Andy Dalton in 2015. 'We wanted him in our building so bad and it happened and [ More ]

Ray McDonaldMay 25 04:42p

Updating previous reports, Chicago Bears DE Ray McDonald has been released Monday, May 25, just hours after being arrested for alleged domestic violence and child endangerment.

Adrian PetersonMay 25 02:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson still wants to be traded, according to a source. Peterson intends to skip all organized team activities, which would cause him to lose $250,000 in workout bonuses.

Adrian PetersonMay 24 09:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has informed head coach Mike Zimmer that he will not attend the optional practices that begin Tuesday, May 26, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Tom BradyMay 22 04:32p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will have the appeal of his four-game suspension heard by commissioner Roger Goodell after the NFL rejected a motion by the NFL Players [ More ]

Tom BradyMay 22 03:32p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension has not been scheduled at this time.

Ray RiceMay 22 11:42a

Free-agent RB Ray Rice (Ravens) could be a consideration for the Dallas Cowboys in free agency, speculates The Dallas Morning News' Jon Machota. He cites Cowboys owner and general [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMay 22 09:52a

Updating an ongoing story, Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson remains in pursuit of being traded or receiving a new contract and remains away from the organization during voluntary workouts. [ More ]

William BeattyMay 21 12:02p

Updating previous reports, New York Giants OT William Beatty (chest) underwent successful surgery Thursday, May 21, to repair a torn pectoral muscle. Beatty will need approximately five to six months of recovery time.

Derek CarrMay 20 10:23p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) will not need surgery on his injured finger and may be able to throw again before the end of offseason workouts, according to his agent.

Joseph RandleMay 20 09:23p

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle is the most likely option to lead the team's running back by committee approach in 2015. Randle has the most experience in the system, [ More ]

William BeattyMay 20 03:53p

Updating previous reports, New York Giants OT William Beatty's (pectoral) torn pectoral will require surgery and Beatty's recovery time is expected to be around five months. Beatty suffered the [ More ]

William BeattyMay 20 03:33p

Updating a previous report, New York Giants OT William Beatty (shoulder) tore his pectoral while lifting weights Wednesday, May 20, according to a source, and will undergo surgery. One [ More ]

Josh HillMay 20 03:23p

New Orleans Saints TE Josh Hill is slated as the starting tight end this season with TE Jimmy Graham now in Seattle. TE Benjamin Watson could give Hill a run for his money, however.

William BeattyMay 20 03:13p

New York Giants OT William Beatty (shoulder) suffered a potentially serious shoulder injury while lifting weights Wednesday, May 20, according to a source. Surgery is a possibility.

Geno SmithMay 20 03:03p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith is the starting quarterback and will not see competition in training camp, according to offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.

Tom BradyMay 20 03:03p

Updating previous reports, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal will not be affected by the team's decision to accept their sanctions. Commissioner Roger Goodell said he wants to [ More ]

Matt JonesMay 20 02:15p

Washington Redskins RB Matt Jones said that he loves the offense and has a chip on his shoulder after not being used properly while in college. 'My college career [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 20 08:53a

Updating a previous report, Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) is experiencing numbness in his right ring finger. He hopes to avoid surgery through rest and rehab, and no [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 19 06:13p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) has a right ring finger injury that could be surgically repaired. A return for training camp is still achievable, however, according to a source.

L. WashingtonMay 19 05:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR L'Damian Washington (undisclosed) was waived/injured Tuesday, May 19.

Shayne GrahamMay 19 03:03p

New Orleans Saints PK Shayne Graham was released Tuesday, May 19. Subsequently, free-agent WR Lance Lewis (49ers) was signed.

Joseph BarksdaleMay 19 02:23p

Free-agent OT Joseph Barksdale (Rams) will sign a one-year deal worth $350,000 with the San Diego Chargers, according to a source. The deal also comes with more than $1 million in incentives available.

Tom BradyMay 19 01:43p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will continue to appeal his four-game suspension, despite owner Robert Kraft saying the team will not appeal the discipline levied against them.

Jed CollinsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Tyler CluttsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Lache SeastrunkMay 18 02:42p

Tennessee Titans RB Lache Seastrunk was released Monday, May 18.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group