Robert Spillane might not be a name a lot of people are very familiar with, but his teammates on the Pittsburgh Steelers sure know him, and they know that he isn’t new, either. In fact, he has been around the team since February of last year when he originally signed as a futures player. That’s longer than Devin Bush and Ulysees Gilbert III have been here. Longer than Steven Nelson and Minkah Fitzpatrick.
So when he is out there on the field in the middle of the defense calling out the plays, lining people up, and making tackles, it won’t come as a surprise to anybody else out there in a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey. It’ll just be what they have seen him doing in practice since he first got here.
Even Fitzpatrick has seen it, and he wasn’t here during the 2019 training camp and preseason, when he really flashed and helped to set himself up on the path to becoming the Steelers’ top backup linebacker entering the 2020 season. He shared his observations of Spillane coming up in the system on Thursday:
He was a hard worker. He was a guy that was always flying around, whether he was on scout team or getting second-team reps with the defense. He was a guy that was always trying to learn, always asking questions of the coaches and the players around him. He’s a great communicator, like I said before. He’s a great player. He’s shown flashes of it already in the first game that he played. He plays with a lot of passion, a lot of energy. It’s fun to play with him.
Now, of course, nobody is going to come out and say that they are really worried about whether or not the defense will be able to stack up going from Devin Bush at middle linebacker to Spillane. Nobody is going to just say that he’s not up to the job. They’re all going to support him.
But this is also a guy who does have some tape out there, things that we have seen in training camp and the preseason and now even the regular season, on special teams, on defense. We have seen some of the things that Fitzpatrick talked about, the flying around, the communicating, the passion and energy.
He is the next man up, and the Steelers expect him to keep the train rolling right on along. He won’t be solely responsible for the job—it is yet to be seen exactly what other components of the plan there may be involved, admittedly—but it will fall mostly on his shoulders. He is ready for it, and so are the men he is playing with.