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.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Steve

    Let us see how McLendon does on 3rd downs on the nickle package. I am sure coach will give him a chance, it is what Steve does with that chance, that will prove his worth to be out there.

  • TrueSteelerForLife

    I would like to see Mclendon and Heyward rushing from the inside and Woodley and Worilds from the outside, with Jones coming on the blitz from the Buck spot in the middle! No way we get blocked!

  • steeltown

    I think carrying only 5 DL is a bad idea. Lets say Keisel goes down (in-game) and Cam takes his place, then the only other guy is Al Woods? Plus I would assume that Nicholas Williams is the PS guy, being that he is so raw you really have no depth. Plus lets not forget that McLendon has yet to start a 16 game full season, I love the guy and expect big things from him, but this year especially we need 6 DL

    They need to hold onto Ta’amu OR Fang (whichever one shows the most promise in camp/preseason)

  • steeltown

    We wont be keeping 5 RB’s like last year (due to Mendy rehabbing from injury) and we also will not be keeping 5 Safeties like last year either.. that’s two roster spots right there. Plus if you remember, we actually kept 7 DL last season, atleast initially to start the season (Hampton, McLendon and Ta’amu) so that would be another spot if kept the normal 6DL

    I would think OL and DL are the positions where we want to keep good depth in 2013 (atleast 9OL and 6 DL)

  • Shea Fahr

    I agree that is pretty risky. We will see this week if they keep tossing Woods in at NT.

  • Shea Fahr

    If Beachum can get the snapping deal down, they may be able to get away with 8. Have Golic and Embernate on PS as extra Guard and Tackle.

  • steeltown

    I would hope 9OL.. that’s just me, the past has given us plenty of reason to keep a lot of depth.

    If Golic and Ember are on PS, who’s your 8OL? Pouncey, DeCastro, Foster, Gilbert, Adams, Beachum, Whimper and… Malecki?

  • Shea Fahr

    Yes, my initial 8 anyway. I am hoping either or both Embernate and Golic can make Whimper or Malecki worry but we will have to see in camp.

  • steeltown

    Something tells me we keep 9OL..

    In my opinion that would mean Golic or Ember might make the final roster. I think Golic might be the guy because of his position flexibility….. and I think Embernate has more upside than Malecki, but I think Malecki might win that battle based on experience

  • Shea Fahr

    Could be..

  • Ahmad

    Keeping 5 DL is risky but our DL normally stays healthy so I think it is worth the Fisk. Plus we can stash either Ta’amu or Fangupo on the PS and activate them in an emergency.