Third Round Press Conference Transcript

Pittsburgh Steelers

2012 NFL Draft

Thursday, April 26 – Saturday, April 28, 2012

Keith Butler RE 3rd Round Pick Sean Spence

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Outside/Middle Linebacker

3rd Round – 86th Overall

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Is Sean Spence and inside or outside linebacker?

He is going to be inside. They (Miami) have played in a 4-3 front, but it's a different front than ours. We see him as an inside linebacker.

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Are the days of Levon Kirkland playing the buck long gone?  He seems pretty small?

I wouldn't say that. This guy is smaller than Levon Kirkland. Sean is a very instinctive, fast, quick kid that is very smart. He is probably best served if we can cover him up. What I mean by that is; if you look at James Farrior, he played the last four or five years at 230 pounds and when you get older like that, it's best to be playing at 230 pounds as opposed to 235 pounds because he knows the game well enough that he is going to act fast enough and he can use the techniques and knowledge of the game, he doesn't have to be as heavy. It's better for him so he can keep his mobility, because that's more important than anything else. This guy has that mobility.

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Is this guy a buck?

I wouldn't call him a buck, no. The buck linebacker has to be a little bit bigger and take on the guards more.  We cover our linebackers up pretty good.  What I mean by that is, we let them scrape and run to football a little bit more instead of coming downhill and taking on isos. The day of the iso with the middle linebacker is almost gone. Everybody is using tight ends as fullbacks and sometimes they use them when trying to lead and sometimes they don't.  A lot of stuff today is mis-direction and trying to fool you or out-number you one way and then give you a different look coming back the other way. A lot of that requires the ability to read from the linebackers now-a-days, not so much to get down and stuff a hole. Sometimes you have to do it on the goal line when you have to take on a big running back, but we're taking on Ray Rice, we're not taking on Jerome Bettis anymore.

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Are you happy with what you have at inside linebacker right now?

Yes. I think we can always get better. You lose a guy like James Farrior, which you're never going to replace because of all the intangibles he brings to the table, that's just impossible to replace all of that. We feel good about who we have inside right now and we'll have to grow and learn as we go.

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Where is he in terms of being NFL-ready?
He's going to help us on special teams. He's not going to start at "mack" linebacker over Lawrence Timmons. That isn't going to happen.

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James Farrior used to talk about how complex the "buck" linebacker position is.  Who do you have in the pipeline there?
The pipeline is going to be Sly (Sylvester Stevenson). Larry Foote is going to be the starter. Larry Foote knows this defense in and out. He's been in this defense for 10 years. If anybody knows this defense it's Larry Foote The guy behind him is Sylvester Stevenson. Sylvester has been with us a couple of years. He's a very sharp young man, and he'll be even better. Last year I required him to know a bunch of different positions, and he knew them well enough to put him in there when we needed him. We had some injuries more than once last year, and he was able to play different positions. That will be required of him again this year. For him and all the other linebackers, they have to move around. Lawrence Timmons moved around. He's played inside and outside. I would prefer to leave Lawrence inside and give him a chance to get some of the recognition. I feel like he'll play well enough to get the recognition that he deserves, because I feel he's one of the better linebackers in the league. I feel if we can keep him at one position, inside, then he has a chance to be one of the better linebackers in the league.

Larry Foote is a very capable starter for us, and there won't be much dropoff by having him in there. Our two outside guys are good players, as you know. Jason Worilds really came on and played well last year for us. The more he played, the better he got. What probably hurt our young guys last year, (Stevenson and Worilds) those two guys didn't have OTAs.  Most of the time young linebackers get better their second year because of the OTAs. The first year, they come in and they go through a complex system. They're having to think out there, and as a consequence they don't move very fast. They're thinking.  The next year they come in and it's night and day for them because of repetition. They go, "Oh, that's what we did.  That makes sense now." They move much faster. Well, these guys didn't have the benefit of those OTAs, and we had to get them in training camp and they were like rookies. Instead of having the OTAs and the minicamp again and then the training camp, they just had training camp. We took out two-thirds of that process for them to learn by having the lockout. That hurt them quite a bit in my opinion, and Jason Worilds really came on for us at the end of the year. I'm sure that Sly will do the same thing this year.

Does Sylvester have long-term starting potential?
I need to see more from him. He might think he does, but he has to convince me first.

Do you see Worilds at inside or outside linebacker?
Worilds played outside for us last year and did a great job. Can he play inside? Maybe he can. We'll see. We might give him a look at that. Right now we need him at outside. Chris Carter has a lot to learn. He was one of those rookies last year that gets the benefit of that second year this year. I have my work cut out for me as a coach.

Did they ask if you wanted Hightower and did you say, 'No, we're good'?
No, I didn't say that. (Laughter) I didn't say that and whoever said I said that wasn't exactly telling the truth. I didn't say that. They didn't ask me. I was kind of standing on the table a little bit, but they didn't ask me.

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