Throughout recent memory the NFL has been full of young prospects that have had bad luck with career-threatening injuries. Many of them due to freakish knee injuries that have taken them out of action and have held them back from playing a single NFL game. Unfortunately, the latest player to fall under that unlucky group of players is Pittsburgh Steelers' linebacker Sean Spence.
The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Spence during the 2012 NFL Draft in the third-round. The Steelers hoped that Spence could provide extra help and youth to an already experienced group of linebackers. Things were looking good for Spence as he impressed many coaches during the Steelers' OTA's. However, things took a dramatic turn when a gruesome knee injury in the 2012 preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers took Spence out of action for two whole seasons.
Spence was chasing Panthers' back-up quarterback, Jimmy Clausen, when a lineman came along and tried to protect his quarterback by blocking Spence from the side. Spence's leg was caught underneath him and bent in an usual way. This caused him to tear his anterior cruciate ligament, lateral collateral ligament, a dislocated knee cap, and nerve damage. Due to the severity of the injury, the Steelers were forced to declare Spence out for the season.
After sitting out a year, Spence made his way back to the practice field in October of 2013. Spence was put on the Physically Unable to Perform list (PUP) and after practicing for three weeks the Steelers decided to put him on the injury reserve list which ended his second season.
Now the Steelers have high hopes that Spence will perform and overcome, what was once thought to be, a "miraculous" comeback. Spence is said to be making major progress in terms of coming back on the field. According to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Spence has participated in all six of the OTAs over the past two weeks.
Spence had this to say regarding his recovery process:
It is still a process, this is just step one of coming out and competing and reacting off of other guys instead of cones. When I get to Latrobe (for training camp), I will be able to test it even more there.Steelers head coach, Mike Tomlin, has expressed his excitement towards Spence's return to the field stating that he "can't wait to see him play football."
Tomlin expressed his feeling towards the Spence's situation via the team's website:
I don’t think that we'll start from scratch. 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 could give the Steelers a young, productive option at linebacker. Spence led the University of Miami in tackles, and tackles for loss during his last season.
Whether Spence comes back to become a stud linebacker or even just a minor contributor, it will be a huge victory. Spence has overcome many obsticals considering the severity of tearing your anterior cruciate ligament, and lateral collateral ligamen all in one play. No matter what team you root for you can't help but hope for such an inspiring comeback. Spence will have many supporters throughout the league that want to witness him achieve his dream of playing in the NFL.
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