While he only played 355 snaps last season, Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon played reasonable well in his first full year as a starter. During his Friday evening press conference following the selection of Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, defensive line coach John Mitchell talked about the former undrafted free agent.
“Steve McLendon was here for a long time, he played behind Casey [Hampton] and Chris Hoke,” started Mitchell. “You know, Steve hadn’t played much, but he’s a guy who made himself, he worked real hard. I’m pleased where he is. We’ve been watching a lot of tape, reviewing a lot of things from last year and he’s a guy that knows what he needs to do, and I think he’s going to improve.”
While Mitchell seems to be happy where McLendon is currently at in his development, he thinks that he might be putting too much presser on himself to fill the large shoes of his predecessors.
“This guy, it was the first time he’s played in the National Football League as a starter, so it’s not easy,” said Mitchell. “I’m sure he had a lot of weight on his shoulders thinking about how Casey and Chris Hoke played, and he wanted to do well. I just told him, ‘Hey you can’t be Casey, you can’t be Chris Hoke, be Steve McLendon'”
The Steelers are expecting McLendon to play a bigger role in 2014 and that means he will likely see time on the field in sub packages now that Ziggy Hood is gone. He also should be fully recovered from the ankle injury that forced him to miss two games as well.
“He’s going to get better and better,” said Mitchell.