Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon played a career-high 355 snaps in his first full season as a starter last year, but that number figures to increase significantly if what defensive end Cameron Heyward said this past week comes to fruition.
“I think our nose tackles have to be ready to play in sub package this year,” said Heyward, according to Scott Brown of ESPN.com.
According to our 2013 charting project, there were 589 of 1,036 defensive plays run by the Steelers last season in which there were only two defensive linemen on the field. On only 37 of those plays was McLendon on the field.
Last offseason, McLendon stated that he hoped to become an every down player, but so far that hasn’t happened. The Steelers usually pull their nose tackle off the field when they roll out their sub packages and last season it was primarily Heyward, Ziggy Hood and Brett Keisel that made up the two defensive linemen that stayed on the field in those instances.
With Hood now gone and Keisel still unsigned, McLendon does indeed figure to see more playing time in sub packages this season even though Cam Thomas was signed during the offseason. Even if Keisel is ultimately re-signed, McLendon should still manage to see an increase in sub package snaps.
“Steve can rush, Cam can rush,” Heyward said, “and we’re looking for them to add more to this defense.”
Defensive Linemen Snaps With Two On Field