Lost in the season opening loss Sunday to the Tennessee Titans was the play of nose tackle Steve McLendon, who registered two quarterback hurries, a hit and three tackles in 39 snaps played. When going through the game tape once again, there were three plays that really stood out to me and below is a break down of each.
The Titans love to run the outside-zone stretch play with running back Chris Johnson and in the past the Steelers defense has had problems defending against it when it was run by other teams. McLendon, however, showed on Sunday that he is capable of defending it by using solid technique.
In order for a nose tackle to properly maintain his lane responsibilities against the outside-zone, he must get across the face of his blocker, stay square to the line of scrimmage and protect his legs in order to stay upright. McLendon does this perfectly on all three of the plays below.
Should McLendon stay healthy in 2013, he certainly could have a monster year. A lot of credit goes to defensive line coach John Mitchell and former Steelers nose tackle Chris Hoke as well. Hoke, who interned as a coach with the Steelers during training camp, usually always played the outside-zone stretch well and McLendon defends a lot like he did.