He’s been taking ballet dancing since his senior year of college. He doesn’t seem to have the demeanor of a big angry nose tackle.
But make no mistake, the time is now for new Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon.
He’s been given the role of starter this season with the departure of longtime and fan favorite Casey Hampton.
The Steelers hope that the new starters first season will be a seamless transition from the mammoth Hampton to the nimble toes of McLendon.
“It’s harder than anything else I do,” McLendon said to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
He may just change his mind after going up against 300 plus pound centers each and every week. It will be McLendon’s job to do what Hampton did for most of his 12 seasons with the black and gold.
So why does a NFL nose tackle take ballet? McLendon claims ballet has strengthened his knees, ankles and feet so much that he can tell the difference when he hasn’t taken ballet in a while.
The 27-year-old originally from Ozark, AL is ready to make a big impact in his first season as the new man in the middle. He’ll try and set the tone, getting a push up the middle.
McLendon is a bit lighter weight wise than Hampton (he’s listed at 320 pounds as compared to Hampton who was 325), but that’s maybe not a bad thing for a Steelers D that seemed to get tired late in games.
Last season with the Steelers, McLendon in 16 games had a pair of sacks, not bad considering that’s not what Steelers nose tackles really ever do.
McLendon has already three sacks, which if you look at Hampton, in 12 years with the Steelers he only had nine.
But don’t worry about sacks, McLendon will be asked to clog up that middle when teams try to run, and that will be a test all season, starting opening day at home against Chris Johnson and the Titans.
McLendon has been on his game thus far in camp, and with about a month till the regular season, get ready to hear his name a lot as the season gets ready to get going.