Steelers HC Mike Tomlin Not Ready To Box Up NT Steve McLendon Just Yet

During his interview with the media last week, Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon talked about being an every-down player in his first year as starter and on Monday head coach Mike Tomlin had a message for him.

“I don’t have Steve or anyone in a box,” said Tomlin, when asked his thoughts on McLendon\’s comments. “If he shows that he is capable of helping us through three downs, I will utilize him. Tell him I said that.”

Mclendon made sure everyone knew last week that he has changed his whole way of thinking this year.

“I\’m no longer saying \’good,\’ I\’m saying \’great\’ because if you speak greatness, greatness will come,” said the former undrafted free agent out of Troy.

He added: “When you want to be an every-down guy, you have to be in better shape. You just have to look at everything differently.”

In the Steelers 3-4 defense the nose tackle normally comes off the field when the team brings in their nickel package, so in order for McLendon to be an every-down player it would mean that one of the two defensive ends would come off the field instead and that\’s not likely to happen.

However, McLendon has shown during his 381 career defensive snaps that he can play the defensive tackle position in the Steelers nickel when the need arises, so that versatility might wind up allowing the team to carry only five defensive linemen on the 53 man roster in 2013 should fellow defensive lineman Al Woods prove over the remainder of the summer he can be the backup nose tackle in addition to being an extra defensive end.

Through the first two weeks of the Steelers 2013 OTA sessions, Woods has worked at nose tackle with the second team defense after solely playing limited snaps at defensive end in 2012. Should that trend continue when the Steelers resume practices on Tuesday, you would have to think that their serious about possibly trying to create a roster spot.

While the final cut down date is still a long way away, it\’s something to keep in the back of your head moving forward, as the Steelers might be looking to keep an extra wide receiver, running back or defensive back on the 53 man roster out of training camp in lieu of a sixth defensive lineman who most likely would be a gameday inactive anyway.

At well over 300 pounds, I doubt that anyone will be putting McLendon in a box. Instead, McLendon will be trying to keep blockers out of the box as the nose tackle in 2013 so that the linebackers are free to make plays.