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Spence: 'The competition pushes you'

Posted Oct 21, 2015

The talent at inside linebacker motivates everyone.

Jerry Olsavsky smiles when you ask him about the talent he has at inside linebacker. Lawrence Timmons. Ryan Shazier. Sean Spence. Vince Williams. All players who have started for the Steelers. Add in Terence Garvin and the position is stacked.

That depth has come in handy as Shazier has missed the last four games with a shoulder injury, and Spence stepped in to start and Williams saw significant playing time.

“That is a great problem to have,” said Olsavsky. “You can never have enough good football players. You need everyone you can get. My goal is those guys in my room I am going to give them everything however they need it, not how I want to give it to them. That is how I have been doing it.

“Inside linebackers, we stand in front of the huddle, we set the defense, those things are important. That starts everyone off for the play. These are guys who can handle the job. I have really good guys in my room and it’s hard not to be happy.”

Timmons leads the team in tackles with 44, Spence is sixth with 25 tackles. Shazier, who Coach Mike Tomlin expects to return to action this week, is seventh with 22 despite missing time, and Williams has 16 stops.

“I feel like our corps of linebackers can be the best corps of linebackers in the NFL,” said Shazier. “Me Timmons, Vince, Spence, and Terence. I feel like we can be the best group in the NFL. We have to keep working and feed off each other.”

The talent level at the position makes for great competition in practice, helping each of them continually grow. 

“Just our backgrounds make us competitive,” said Spence. “All of us come from big Division I colleges where competition is high. It’s the same here, guys are talented and we push each other.

“The competition pushes you a lot. You see a guy make a play and you want to come back and make one. They see you make a play they want to come back and make one. It’s pushing us in the right direction to be great as a linebacker unit and a defense.”