Pittsburgh Steelers starting nose tackle Steve McLendon missed four games last season because of an injured shoulder but the former undrafted free agent out of Troy let be known last week that he’s all but overcome that injury.
“Oh yeah, it’s good,” McLendon said of his shoulder late last week during an interview with Steelers Nation Radio. “My doctors did a great job and my rehab went really well and it’s still going really well. Now, the biggest thing, our team, we work together to get me prepared and get me back on this field.”
Now that he’s back healthy again, McLendon, who registered 21 total tackles and one sack last season, knows what is expected from him in 2015.
“My main focus and main goal is to help stop the run,” said McLendon. “If I stop the run and we stop the run, I think that will pretty much take care of itself. That’s what the defense is made up of, stopping the run and that’s what we have to do.”
Now that defensive end Brett Keisel is no longer with the team, McLendon is the longest tenured veteran on the Steelers defensive line and because of that, he intends to lead the other players in his unit by giving them a good example to follow.
“I’d rather work and let the guys see my actions, instead of talking so much,” said McLendon about his leadership role for the upcoming season. “But if they ever need a helping hand, I’m always there to help them out because I am one of the most experienced guys on the d-line, because I’ve been here the longest.”
Second-year player Daniel McCullers will more than likely begin the 2015 season as the primary backup at the nose tackle position and McLendon was asked to comment on the progress that the former sixth-round draft pick has made over the course of one year.
“He’s not limited to nothing,” said McLendon of McCullers. “He’s only going to be as good as he wants to be and the only thing is to keep working everyday and that’s all he has to do is keep working and bring whatever he has to the table everyday.”
McLendon also talked about second-year defensive end Stephon Tuitt as well.
“Stephon is one of our really, really good players,” said Mclendon.”We expect a lot out of him. Him and Dan both understand that we’re trying to have the No. 1 run defense in the NFL.”
As far as the other young Steelers defensive linemen go, McLendon also delivered a few updates on that group.
“Man, he’s got good hands, he’s working hard, extremely hard,” said McLendon of rookie defensive end L.T. Walton. “All of our rookies are working extremely hard to get better each day. Not just the rookies, the guys that have been in the league that’s here now. Everybody is working hard and that’s one thing we have, a group of guys who compete and get better everyday.”
McLendon, who is now 29, is entering the final year of the three-year contract that he signed in 2013.