Mike Tomlin not looking at surplus of inside linebackers to help outside

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers return their top four inside linebackers next season and will have a crowd at the spot alongside Pro Bowler Lawrence Timmons.

Sean Spence and Vince Williams alternated at weakside linebacker after Ryan Shazier got hurt. The two continued to play ahead of Shazier -- Spence in the base defense and Williams in the nickel -- after Shazier returned in early December from a high-ankle sprain.

The Steelers appear to be set at inside linebacker but the outlook at outside linebacker is not nearly as sanguine.

Jarvis Jones is the only player on the 53-man roster who is signed beyond 2014, making outside linebacker one of the Steelers' biggest areas of concern heading into the offseason.

Might the Steelers try one of their inside linebackers on the outside given the uncertainty at the position?

Maybe, coach Mike Tomlin said, but not on a full-time basis.

"There isn't anybody that bowls me over or is seeping with potential as an outside linebacker," the eighth-year coach said. "There are guys that are capable of providing some quality snaps for us there. But those guys are where they are right now in terms of natural positioning. It doesn't mean I am not going to challenge people to have position flexibility. You know that we value that."

Not that Tomlin is ruling anything out with an entire offseason in front of the Steelers.

"As I sit here (Tuesday) there are no inside linebackers that are seeping with outside linebacker capabilities," Tomlin said. "I may be surprised, and that's the beautiful thing about it. I know that by the way we approach our business we will always give guys an opportunity to show flexibility and to prove us wrong in a lot of ways. And that's OK."

Outside linebacker Howard Jones, whom the Steelers signed as an undrafted rookie last May, spent the entire season on the practice squad and was signed Monday to a future contract.

Tomlin, however, would not bite when asked about the three players who were on the Steelers' practice squad all season and have re-signed the team.

"They did enough to proceed," he said.