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Steelers take linebacker Spence in 3rd round

| Friday, April 27, 2012, 10:58 p.m.
©JC Ridley/Miami Hurricanes
Courtesy of Miami The Steelers selected Miami linebacker Sean Spence in the third round of the NFL Draft.

The Steelers were in the market to replace inside linebacker James Farrior, and they addressed that need in the third round of the NFL Draft on Friday night by selecting Miami (Fla.) senior linebacker Sean Spence.

“We see him as an inside linebacker,” Steelers linebacker coach Keith Butler said. “Sean is a very distinctive, fast kid who is very smart.”

Butler said Spence (5-foot-11, 231 pounds) won't be expected to contribute much his rookie year other than special teams. Butler said Lawrence Timmons and Larry Foote will be the starting inside linebackers.

“You are never going to replace a guy like James Farrior with all the intangibles he brings to the table,” Butler said. “We feel comfortable with what we have.”

The Steelers plan to groom Spence to eventually take over one of the inside spots.

Spence started 39 of his 40 career games at Miami at weak-side outside linebacker and ranks 11th in school history with 318 tackles that included 10.5 sacks.

Spence is the first Hurricane to record 100 tackles in consecutive seasons. He had 111 in 2010 and 106 last year.

Spence, 21, was a Butkus Award semifinalist as the nation's top linebacker last year.

“This is a perfect organization,” Spence said. “I am a team player, and I am going to contribute anyway I can. It is going to be great playing alongside those guys like Lawrence Timmons.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at mkaboly@tribweb.com.

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