Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon is getting a late start on heading for greatness.
After sitting behind Steelers great Casey Hampton, he isn’t in the mood to settle for good anymore. McLendon is the heir apparent to Hampton, but he’s still has to go out and prove he’s the right guy for the job.
He was signed by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2009 and he was a final cut in training camp, but re-signed to the practice squad the next day.
He was released in November 2009, but re-signed in December.
He was signed to a reserve/future contract in January 2010.
McLendon was a final cut for the second straight season when he was released in September 2010.
He was re-signed to the practice squad and the Steelers signed McLendon to their active roster in September and he’s been gradually fighting towards to starting nose tackle job since then.
When Hampton was let go in 2013, the team announced McLendon the starter, for the first time in his professional career he wasn’t looking up at anyone.
Also, he’s changed his attitude, he's not taking anything for granted, his struggles led him to this point, and they will carry him to ‘greatness’ as he puts it.
“I am going towards greatness and there is only one way to get there, through hard work and dedication,” McLendon said, via Teresa Varley of Steelers.com.
“If we all can accomplish that, we are going to be great together. Sometimes you have to do things yourself to help everyone get better.”
“If you want to be great at what you do, you have to look at what is making other athletes great at their sport,” McLendon said. “If you can take something from every sport and apply it to your sport, it’s going to make you a better player.”
On using baseball drills to help him at his position:
“I think baseball is the scariest sport ever,” McLendon siad. “I have a lot of respect for those guys. I take my hat off to them. I got in the batting cage, well close to it, and was watching the ball coming. I thought how do these guys even see this ball?
“That is how I learned the eye coordination, though. By the time the ball is released, they know when the ball is going to get there. If I can learn to watch the ball it will slow the game down for me. You can see when the pitcher is going to grip the ball and his throw and windup. It’s the same with a center. You see him grip the ball, his windup is the snap. If I can catch his hand and am able to attack him, it will make me that much quicker and better applying pressure to the quarterback, running back and the offensive line.”