Steve McLendon: Why the Steelers MUST Keep Him

The 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers, sans Ben Roethlisberger, surpised the NFL by beating the Atlanta Falcons on opening day.
Lost amidst the glare created by Troy Polamalu’s dramatic interception and Rashard Mendenhall’s 50 yard touchdown was the bad news that the Casey Hampton was injured, and unavailable to play vs. Tennessee.
Chris Hoke had shown himself to be an able replacement, but he was the only nose tackle on the roster. An injury to Hoke would give Chris Johnson a beeline through the middle of the defense.
The night before the game the Steelers announced that they had (temporarily) cut Byron Leftwich an activated a previously unknown nose tackle from the practice squad.
That nobody was none other than Steve McLendon and he just happened to have a hand in what was one of the greatest defensive games infranchise history. In fact, he recovered a fumble and helped neutralize Johnson.
McLendon appeared in 7 other games in 2010, played in all sixteen during the 2011 season, and 14 during the 2012 season. His numbers are pedestrian with 3 sacks and only 17 tackles in three seasons, but statistics can be misleading.
Resigning Steve McLendon Must be a Priority for the Steelers
Casey Hampton, long the anchor of the Steelers defensive line, is a free agent and expected to depart. Alameda Ta’amu needs to hope that if he’s lucky enough to report for training camp and not prison later this year that he draws attention to himself for something more than hurting his foot walking to Walmart. 
  • That makes McLendon the only viable option at nose tackle.

But that’s not the reason why the Steelers must resign him. The Steelers need to resign restricted free agent Steve McLendon because he has the look of a stud who is on the verge of budding.

Many fans felt that McLendon had earned the right to start over Casey Hampton on the strength of his preseason performance. While Hampton improved as the season progressed, McLendon simply made plays whenever he got onto the field by:

Steve McLendon has drive, fire, and an ability to disrupt opposing offenses.

There’s been talk that the Steelers will offer him a low-ball restricted free agent tender – salary cap realities might dictate that, but…

  • The Steelers need to keep Steve McLendon no ifs ands or buts

Ed Bouchette has said that the success of the 3-4 defense rises and falls on the knees of the nose tackle. The Steelers need a gamer there and McLendon looks poised to size that role.

There’s been talk that the Steelers might flip flop McLendon with Ziggy Hood. If the coaches want to make that move, so be it, allow them to make it. Either way must ensure that Steve McLendon is part of their front seven on opening day 2013.

Thanks for visiting. Click here for the rest of Steel Curtain Rising or here to see our Steelers 2013 Free Agent Focus.

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