There will definitely be a different look to the Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebackers in 2014. Gone is veteran Larry Foote, who missed almost the all of 2013 due to injury. While Lawrence Timmons returns, the cast of players next to him will be different.Ryan Shazier. He was one of the more interesting linebacker prospects that the Steelers brought in for a visit during the pre-draft process. Athletic and smart, he has been a consistent team-leader on defense and has the look of a player that can make an impact in the NFL. At 6-1, 237-pounds, Shazier put on a show at his Pro Day, recording a blazing 4.38 40-yard dash and a solid 42-inch vertical. More importantly, these demonstrations of raw athleticism are backed up by production on the field, where he shows tremendous closing speed, quickness off the edge as a blitzer, fluidity, and a relentless motor with a high football acumen.
Behind Timmons and Shazier there are three players who could legitimately find their way onto the roster. Of those, linebacker Sean Spence may be the biggest story. After Spence suffered a horrific knee injury in training camp in 2012, he has spent almost all of the past two seasons on injured reserve. Now, he has been medically cleared to return and has been taken part in both OTAs and minicamp. His next hurdle will be training camp and the physical grind of contact.
After Spence, Vince Williams and Terrence Garvin should both make the final cut. Williams improved as the season went on in 2013, and Garvin went from camp standout, to special teams ace, to sub package player in his first season after making it as an undrafted rookie free agent. In the end, the Steelers keep five inside linebackers for depth and special teams purposes.
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