Steelers NT McLendon wants to be full-time threat
Don't get Steve McLendon wrong — he's quite happy taking over for Pro Bowl nose tackle Casey Hampton.
But the undrafted free agent out of Troy wants more … much more.
McLendon wouldn't mind sliding over to defensive end on third downs when the Steelers are in their nickel package in order to showcase something a 3-4 nose tackle shouldn't be able to do — rush the passer.
“I tell them not to take that pass rush from me because I can do that, I can rush the passer,” McLendon said. “I tell (defensive line coach John Mitchell) that all the time, but he won't let me.”
It's possible McLendon just isn't beating the right ear. Maybe he needs to step up a level of management to be heard?
“If he shows that he is capable of us helping us through three downs, I'll utilize him,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “So tell him I said that.”
Actually, the Steelers are more interested in McLendon being able to use his 320-pound frame on first and second downs to stop the run rather than chase the quarterback.
Still, McLendon dropped 15 pounds from a season ago in order to have the opportunity to stay on the field on all downs.
“I don't want to be good, I want to be great,” he said. “And great players don't come off the field.”
McLendon showed enough promise last year in his limited opportunities to allow the Steelers to part ways with Hampton after 12 seasons. And he showed enough that when Green Bay expressed interest in the restricted free agent in April that the Steelers quickly responded with a three-year, $7.5 million deal for the 27-year-old.
“Steve has a lot of potential,” veteran defensive end Brett Keisel said. “He's a good, hardworking kid who comes to work ready to work every day.”
Despite being lauded by Mitchell before last year, McLendon didn't see the field a lot. He averaged a little more than eight snaps per game, which included a six-game span in the middle of the season when he averaged five.
Still, he was able to make plays when given the opportunities.
“We've seen flashes of him making big plays,” Keisel said. “It will be great to see it on a regular basis.”
McLendon had two fewer quarterback pressures and two more sacks than Hampton despite playing in 370 fewer snaps.
McLendon didn't let the lack of opportunities bother him. In fact, he believes sitting behind Hampton will do nothing but help him.
“This is what I've learned here because I have seen it — we all have roles,” McLendon said. “They groom you just like a baby. When you come into this defense, you are an infant. You don't know anything. The three or four yearsyou are in this defense (when) you aren't playing are the most valuable. ”
McLendon did a lot of learning over the past couple of years — that is when he was on the roster. The Steelers signed or released McLendon 11 times over a span of his first 18 months in the league.
“Nobody probably believed in me, but I believed in myself,” he said. “I knew I could do it … actually, I knew I was going to do it. I never had a doubt that I was going to be a starter. My uncle told me that if I am going play football in the NFL that you aren't taking that field just to take the field. He said take that field to become a star.”
And if it is up to McLendon, he would never come off the field.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ Roethlisberger hurting after big hit
- Steelers’ Brown combats disruptive defensive ploys
- Steelers veteran defenders want young teammates to step up
- Steelers notebook: Defense sags in NFL rankings because of struggles against the run
- Steelers not receiving big returns on their offseason investments
- Steelers film session: Missed tackles prove costly
- Big Ben’s struggles emblematic of loss
- Steelers game changers: Steelers fooled by Ravens’ play action
- Rossi: Are NFL fans ready for some priorities?
- Mistakes multiply for Steelers in rout by Ravens