TribLIVE

| Sports


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Steelers NT McLendon wants to be full-time threat

Steelers/NFL Videos

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' Steve McLendon celebrates a defensive play against the Browns on December 2012 at Heinz Field.

Here today, gone tomorrow

Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon has been signed or released 11 times during his first 18 months in the NFL.

Apr. 27, 2009 — Signed as an undrafted rookie free agent

Sept. 5, 2009 — Released

Sept. 6, 2009 — Signed to practice squad

Nov. 25, 2009 — Released

Dec. 2, 2009 — Signed to practice squad

Jan. 7, 2010 — Signed to offseason roster

Sept. 4, 2010 — Released

Sept. 6, 2010 — Signed to practice squad

Sept. 18, 2010 — Signed to 53-man roster

Sept. 20, 2010 — Released

Sept. 21, 2010 — Signed to practice squad

Oct. 2, 2010 — Signed to 53-man roster

Oct. 7, 2010 — Released

Oct. 11, 2010 — Signed to practice squad

Oct. 30, 2010 — Signed to 53-man roster

Wednesday, June 5, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

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

Most-Read Steelers

  1. Lopsided loss to Eagles shows Steelers have issues aplenty
  2. Steelers notebook: Keisel always hoped to return
  3. Keisel always hoped to return to Steelers
  4. Starkey: Stupid Steelers
  5. Distracted Steelers show nothing in loss to Eagles
  6. Steelers notebook: Keisel dresses, but doesn’t play
  7. Steelers running backs Bell, Blount will face drug charges
  8. Rossi: Blount brings back Steelers’ swagger
  9. Commitment by Steelers’ Gilbert pays off
  10. Steelers sign tackle Gilbert to $30 million deal
  11. Gradkowski, Jones struggling to fill backup QB duties for Steelers
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.