Big Dan Makes Big Progress During Steelers Training Camp

The Pittsburgh Steelers wrapped up their 2014 training camp Thursday with one final scrimmage against the Buffalo Bills and by the sound of things, big Dan McCullers made a big impression on head coach Mike Tomlin during his time in Latrobe.

“He’s progressing. He’s doing a nice job of really working the techniques and really getting better from an assignment standpoint,” said Tomlin of the Steelers second of two sixth-round draft picks during his Thursday afternoon press conference. “Obviously he has a distinguishing characteristics, he’s an enormous man and one that’s difficult to move.

“But I think day in and day out he’s proven that he’s more that. He likes to play football, he comes to work everyday. I like the progress he’s making, but obviously he has some progress ahead of him.”

In the preseason opener last Saturday night against the New York Giants, McCullers played above the line. While he only registered one tackle, he did push the pocket a few times when rushing the passer and overall did a good job at attempting to keep his pad level low while clogging up the middle on running plays.

“I think I did pretty good overall. For most of the plays, I held up the linemen to let the linebackers make plays,” McCullers said Monday about his performance against the Giants, according to Ralph N. Paulk of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I was just trying to run around and make plays. I have to adjust to the speed. That is the biggest thing. It was a huge difference when I first got out there. It hit me for a second, but I adjusted.”

McCullers didn’t play until later in the second half against the Giants as he entered after fellow nose tackle Hebron Fangupo exited. He did, however, get to face the Giants rookie second-round center Weston Richburg.

Saturday night in the Steelers second preseason game against the Bills, we shall see whether or not the big man out of Tennessee made a big enough on impression on Tomlin to warrant him getting into the game before Fangupo does. If that happens, it will be a good sign that he’s moving up the depth chart in his attempt to make the final 53 man roster.

Be on the lookout this morning for a film breakdown of McCuller’s play Saturday night against the Giants by Matthew Marczi.

  • Jack Foster

    As a die-hard fan of Steelers D, I am most excited for McCullers of all the rookies. We haven’t been good at run stopping since Hampton left and a 3-4 D requires that big body to disrupt the pocket and take out 2-3 OL so the LBs can do their damage in/outside. McClendon is no 3-4 NT he is at best a DE on L/R. No surprise OLBs had fewer sacks and DBs gave up big pass plays w/o pressure! Go Mt McCullers – Steelers D needs you to be starter worthy!

  • Jonas

    The statistics say that our problem against runs was not Steve McLendon!
    And he’s even bigger this year.. at least wait for his season debut.

  • Jack Foster

    Hey Jonas – not debating you, but please do share stats I’ve missed regarding run support and QB pressure, I’m not seeing on field play of McClendon to show he’s disrupting the pocket. Plus, TribLive, Post Gazette, Depot, have ever highlighted McClendon as an above the line NT, the writers usually note he’s inconsistently average at best. A 3-4 D needs a beast.

  • Paddy

    I hope he makes the team, but then again that would mean what they have at NT is substandard.

  • steeltown

    I’m rooting for this kid.

  • Rick Mooney

    I knew he would be a beast! Dave you were wrong on this one! Dead wrong ha ha

  • PA2AK

    Mac is not a traditional NT that we have seen, but even LeBeau said he was excited to have a more athletic NT and it fits the mold he would prefer. Mac showed early last year that he could penetrate in passing situations (prior to his injury) and did it far better than Big Snack was ever expected to. Run support can be better…he’s no Snack, but he’s not a slouch either. His injury set him back, but he held his own. The stats that Jonas alluded to were all over this site and others regarding run success when teams ran up the middle against Mac. It was actually OK. He does have room to improve for sure, but he should be a brighter spot on the D. Big changes we will see is from having an entire locker room ready to work with good attitudes (addition by subtraction). I don’t think Mac cracks the top 5 reasons why we struggled against the run last year.

  • PA2AK

    I’ve heard LeBeau say he prefers an athletic nose like Mac actually. We’ll see how he progresses. If he contributes in disrupting the pocket…that is certainly a departure from Steeler NT’s as of late.

  • PA2AK

    haha….not sure Dave said anything about this kid being a failure…more that it would be a steal if he actually made the roster. Not a bad prediction. Let us wait until he actually makes the cut and/or takes an NFL snap or two before we say he is a beast

  • SteelersDepot
  • Jonas

    Thank you, that was the article I had in mind.

    I wouldn’t be able to back up my statement by myself 😀

  • Jack Foster

    Jonas & Pa2ak, the insight is much appreciated. More reason to have love for Steelers Nation, cuz our fans know football and don’t simply talk smack without backing it up. Thanks for the perspective!

  • Asmitty56

    At this point he’s a back up to McLendon. They really don’t need Fang as much with Cam Thomas being able to play NT as well.

  • Matt Manzo

    I’m on the Beast Bandwagon too!

  • Matt Manzo

    Can Fang play in the nickel? Seems like McCullers ability to play nickel and FG block team will tip the scales in his favor?!

  • BFB

    The only knock on McClendon was failure to command the double team at times. They say he is playing at about 235 lbs now and should do better with the extra bulk. Fangupo is a journeyman at best. He is older than the Macs and when he was in he was stood up at the line by single blockers for the most part. He slid along the line very well if you count style points but he needs to move forward, not backward or laterally especially in a one on one blocking scenario. I think Fang is the odd man out with Cam being here now.

  • BFB

    Make that 335 lbs. Oops..

  • AndyR34

    Oh no…we musn’t let facts get in front of hyperbole! LOL!

  • CW

    Yeah this year McCullers can red shirt and play mostly in short yardage and goal line situations with Cam Thomas being the primary backup at nose tackle. Let Coach Mitchell develop Big Dan into a center and guard crushing monster for next year.

    Man, can you imagine what kind of nightmare he’s going to be stopping running backs on the goal line this year?