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Sunday, August 3, 2014
Paul George in Sean Spence's thoughts

By Scott Brown

LATROBE, Pa. -- Sean Spence did not see a replay of the gruesome injury that Indiana Pacers forward Paul George suffered Fright night in a Team USA scrimmage.

 Nor does the Steelers inside linebacker ever plan on watching it.

But if anyone can empathize with what George faces after breaking his leg, it is Spence, whose NFL career was nearly ended before it started by a devastating knee injury.

“I said a prayer for him [Friday] night because I know what the road is going to be for him,” Spence said. “As long as he works hard and keeps his faith in God, he’ll be good.”

Spence is a sublime example of the power of prayer and perseverance.

The 5-11, 231-pounder is almost all the way back from an injury so severe that even eight months after it happened, Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler said it would be a miracle if he ever played again.

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon, a little less than two years after Spence got hurt.

The 2012 third-round draft pick flashed in front of a receiver at Chuck Noll Field and nearly intercepted a pass in one-on-one passing drills. Upset with himself for not making the pick, Spence dropped to the turf and started ripping off push-ups.

As the crowd both laughed and cheered, nothing seemed farther away than those days after Spence shredded his left knee in late August 2012 and didn't know whether he would ever play football again. Spence, after all, hadn’t just torn several ligaments in his knee. He also dislocated his kneecap and sustained nerve damage.

“Very few people had it or came back from it,” Spence said of the injury he suffered in the Steelers’ final preseason game in 2012. “It was a unique situation that I used to exercise my faith and grow. Everyone knows that I had a lot of dark times, and I had no one to turn to but God.”

Spence has made it through the dark days that clouded his football future, and people who didn’t know how badly he had hurt his knee wouldn’t know he injured it by watching him at camp now.

Spence ran right through overmatched tight end David Paulson in the backs on 'backers drill Friday night, and his reconstructed knee had held up under the weight of the padded practices that the Steelers have strung together. 

Spence said he hasn’t taken any extra precautions with his knee, and he makes sure to ice it and stretch it out properly. He also tries to get at least eight hours of sleep. Good luck with that during training camp.

“It’s hard,” Spence said. “I get seven and a half.”

That Spence isn’t getting as much sleep as he would like only makes him like every other player who is grinding through camp. How good must that feel after what it took for him to get to this point.

“Every part of my body is pretty sore, but it’s camp,” Spence said. “I’m sure I’m feeling like all of the other guys.”