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Mike Tomlin hopeful Sean Spence will fully recover

Sean Spence's NFL career was dealt a cruel blow before it really even started.

The linebacker -- a third-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2012 NFL Draft -- suffered multiple ligament tears in his left knee during last year's preseason finale. The gruesome injury sent Spence to injured reserve and raised doubt about if he'd ever play again.

Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler painted a grim picture last weekend, when he said it would be "miraculous" if Spence played a down in 2013.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, however, disagreed with Butler's assessment.

"All the rehab is going to according to plan," Tomlin said Saturday, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette . "No news there. I did hear the opinion regarding Spence. My opinion differs. I think he'll have a full recovery. But now you have two opinions, neither of which are expert medical opinions, so do with it what you wish."

(Something tells us we've heard the last Steelers medical diagnosis by one Keith Butler.)

Spence had been in line to serve as a backup inside linebacker and special-teams contributor before the injury. Tomlin obviously is holding out hope Spence can fill that role in 2013.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.

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