Game Changer: Steve McLendon
Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon sacks Eagles quarterback Michael Vick during a preseason game i Philadelphia last month.
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Steve McLendon is not a household name in Pittsburgh, even if he is bigger than some households at 6 feet, 4 inches and 325 pounds. He's still not as big -- figuratively nor precisely -- as Big Snack, Casey Hampton, who held down the job of playing nose tackle for the Steelers the past 11 seasons.
McLendon, though, likely will open the season as the team's starter and could well keep that job even when Hampton is deemed healthy enough from knee and elbow surgeries to play again. McLendon enters his third season with the Steelers, although he started only once in the previous two.
He went undrafted in 2009 after playing four seasons at Troy University in Alabama, formerly Troy State. He spent time on the Steelers practice squad that year, made the team in '10 and played more often in '11.
The Steelers drafted a nose tackle this year in the fourth round, Alameda Ta'amu, and many assumed he would be the heir apparent to Hampton. It looks more and more like the heir apparent is the heir now, McLendon.
First Published September 6, 2012 12:00 am