Deciphering differing opinions on Spence

May, 6, 2013
5/06/13
10:03
AM ET
They say no news is good news. But what do they say about conflicting news? That's the situation in Pittsburgh with inside linebacker Sean Spence.

Spence
During the NFL draft, Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler said it would be "miraculous" if Spence came back from a devastating knee injury. A week later, coach Mike Tomlin weighed in on the outlook for the 2012 third-round pick.

"I did hear the opinion regarding Spence. My opinion differs," Tomlin said during rookie minicamp. "I think he’s going to have a full recovery. But now you have two opinions, neither of which are expert medical opinions. Do with it what you wish."

It would surprise me if Spence's position coach decided to paint such a grim picture (and do it publicly) without being informed by someone from the medical staff or another high-ranking official. So, why did Tomlin say something completely different? We already know the Steelers are going to keep Spence around for the 2013 season to give him every chance to rebound from a knee injury that involves two torn ligaments (ACL and LCL) and a damaged nerve. My take is Tomlin is giving some hope to a 22-year-old who couldn't have been inspired by Butler's comments.

The Steelers had high expectations for Spence before he injured his knee last preseason. He would have been one of the core special teams players last year and he might have been in line for a starting job this year.

Now, the Steelers are unsure, or at least not on the same page, as to whether Spence will ever play a meaningful game for the franchise. If I took one thing away from Tomlin's comments, it's that Butler, who is considered the heir apparent to defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, won't be revealing medical updates anytime soon.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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