Nose tackle Steve McLendon was originally signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as undrafted free agent in 2009 and since that time, he has logged a total of 381 snaps on defense. In those 381 snaps; however, the Troy product showed enough to earn a three-year, $7.25 million contract extension this past offseason.
McLendon talked to the media following the Steelers Tuesday OTA practice and let everyone know about his new way of thinking as he heads into his first season as the starting nose tackle.
“I changed my whole my way of thinking this year,” McLendon said, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I\’m no longer saying \’good,\’ I\’m saying \’great\’ because if you speak greatness, greatness will come.”
McLendon, who described himself Tuesday as a combination of nose tackles Casey Hampton, Jay Ratliff and Chris Hoke, knows all about the great defensive players that have played for the Steelers over the years, and that his goal is to become one of them.
“This team has been built on greatness for so long,” said McLendon, per the Bouchette report. “If you go upstairs, you\’ve seen [photos on the office walls of] the guys who were here; they did great things. That\’s the look I\’m looking at. I\’m not coming here just to be good; I want to be great.”
Even though he bounced back and forth between the Steelers 53 man roster and the practice squad early on in his career, McLendon said on Tuesday that he\’s always prepared like he was the starter. That preparation showed in 2011 when he made his one and only career start in the Week 7 game against Arizona Cardinals due to Hampton and Hoke both being sidelined with injuries. In that game, McLendon registered five total tackles and one quarterback pressure and was part of a Steelers defense that held the Cardinals to 73 yards rushing on the day.
When Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell talked to the media during the 2012 draft, he made it known that people should not think the organization was giving up on McLendon just because they selected Washington nose tackle Alameda Ta\’amu in the fourth round.
“Everybody wants to discard McLendon, let me tell you this, hold your opinion until the season is over,” said Mitchell.
Despite only playing 139 snaps in 2012; McLendon made the most of them while backing up Hampton as he registered seven total tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble and two quarterback hurries. While many of those snaps came at the nose tackle position in the Steelers base defense, McLendon also showed that he can play defensive tackle when the team employs their nickel package as well as defensive end in the base unit.
As far as McLendon\’s work ethic goes, he wasn\’t afraid to talk about that on Tuesday, either.
“I prepare hard everyday; I work hard everyday; I grind hard everyday,” said McLendon.