Do The Steelers Have A Marshall Plan In Place At Inside Linebacker?

Steelers Marshall McFaddenThe Pittsburgh Steelers made a pretty strong statement earlier this month when they decided not to tender former fifth round draft pick Stevenson Sylvester. It wasn\’t so much that Sylvester had done anything in his three years to warrant tendering, more than it was the fact that the Steelers appeared to be very thin at the inside linebacker position.

The Steelers started the offseason with only Lawrence Timmons, Sean Spence and Marshall McFadden under contract for 2013. Spence, as many of you know by now, might never play again due to the nerve damage that he suffered to his knee last preseason. Shortly after the season ended, however, the Steelers added castoff inside linebackers Brian Rolle and Kion Wilson to the roster and eventually signed re-signed Foote just over a week ago.

I have already posted my thoughts on Rolle recently, but what about McFadden? Could he be the reason that the Steelers let Sylvester just walk away?

McFadden had a tough road to travel to get where he is now. He was one of the many undrafted players that fell through the cracks during the 2011 lockout. Despite being out of the game for a full season, Dan Rooney Jr., who scouted McFadden when he was at South Carolina State, made it a point to get McFadden a workout last offseason and it led to him being signed to a futures contract as a result.

Buried on the depth chart in training camp, McFadden only saw playing time in the preseason late in games, but he made the most of his opportunities at both the BUCK and MACK positions, and also on special teams. In fact, McFadden led the Steelers in preseason tackles with 15 total, 13 of which were considered solo. He also made the defensive calls late in those games in addition.

Despite his solid preseason showing, the numbers did not allow McFadden to stick to the 53 man roster, but he was signed to practice squad immediately after the final roster cut-down. He remained on the practice squad until Week 11 when he was promoted to the 53 man roster after outside linebacker Chris Carter was placed on inured reserve with an abdominal injury. In his first NFL game against the Baltimore Ravens, McFadden played on special teams and cracked the stat sheet with an assisted tackle on the opening kickoff of the second half.

McFadden very well might have stayed on the Steelers 53 man roster for the rest of the season, but the injuries suffered by quarterback Byron Leftwich and wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery in the loss to the Ravens resulted in the linebacker being shuffled back to the practice squad the next week.

McFadden was again promoted to the 53 man roster in the final week of the season, but an abdominal injury that suffered leading up to the game against the Cleveland Browns resulted in him missing the game.

McFadden\’s ability to play both inside linebacker spots, combined with his year experience in the defense, will give him a solid shot at making the Steelers 53 man roster in 2013. He told me recently that he is currently working out in North Carolina at Velocity Sports and knows that this a big year for him.

Due to the lack of numbers at the position, the Steelers are very likely to add an inside linebacker at some point during the draft and one or two more after the draft as well. Should McFadden pick up in the mini camp practices where he left off last preseason, he should have no problem making the 53 man roster, especially if he if impresses new special teams coach Danny Smith along the way.

Should the Steelers hold off drafting an inside linebacker until the later rounds next month, it\’s likely because they have a plan already in place. A Marshall plan.

  • steeltown

    I like McFadden, I like when guys come from the bottom of the barrel and work their tales off to get to the top.. I’ll be rooting for him this training camp. He could definitely be a backup inside this season and the fact that he’s had time at both spots inside will only help his case

  • John21

    LBs make our Defense go! We need to draft at least 3! One ILB and 2 OLB. As you said they are studs on ST

  • Jonathon Bert Schade

    Maybe two, but no more. There are other needs!

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Now re-signed Foote tells you what they think of McFadden.

    Tell the 2011 rookies who actually played on offense or defense in 2011 regular season that the 2011 season didnt count. Reality is, some rookies played on offense or defense that regular season, plenty of them contributed in nfl that year.

  • steeltown

    Not really.. McFadden took one snap on Defense.. he was in no way ready to take over as starter this season. Who knows, maybe he’ll never be, but I’m rooting for him

  • Marky Zeigler

    He was impressive in preseason last year.. Can’t hurt to have quality depth. Would still like to see Sean Spence come back and contribute also.

  • JC

    We need to end this madness at the ILB position and just draft a guy like Ogletree, Minter, Arthur Brown, or Te’o.

  • steeltown

    Its not madness, you cant have superstars at every position, 2 of the 3 highest paid players on the Team are LB’s.. not to mention we need depth, the backups have to be capable without costing a fortune

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt


  • steeltown

    He led the Team in ‘tackles’ during the preseason.. but Sly and B.Johnson started the season as the backup inside LB’s, I think the reason those two started the season is because they had split time playing inside and outside in training camp due to the ongoing health issues of Harrison and Worilds, the Team wanted that depth and versatility

  • Clint Martin

    Hi Bad Guy by the way your caps are on.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    It’s not to often a rookie stands out. Lee in the first game grabbed my attention with his agressiveness. Can’t remember which game it was but I remember McFadden on a goal line stand hitting the line and stopping a HB trying to get into the end zone. Victorian also showed me his athletism. I think McFadden will at least be a ST guy and hoping he is a diamond in the rough

  • Joel

    Great player, followed him during his college days.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    thanks I forgot

  • charles

    It feels like we have a couple of linebackers waiting to take over. Cant LeBeau throw in some simple D calls to let these guys get some playing time?

  • LucasY59

    Unless Teo, Brown, Minter, or Ogeltree make it to the 2nd rd pick, I dont see a ILB being picked untill the 6th/7th when they could possibly get Mike Mauti, Vince Williams or Bruce Taylor, If thats a the case then McFadden/Rolle and/or the Draft pick might be the backups that make the 53, they will have to contribute alot on STs

  • markthom

    Mauti is a injury prone player and Taylor is too slow Vince Williams is a lil faster I also like a late sleeper Kenny Tate from MD he was a beast safety that got changed to LB

  • LucasY59

    I agree, Mauti if healthy is better than a 6th rounder, I like Williams better than Taylor and Tate is a guy I think could be a good UDFA