PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – The Steelers have spent a couple high draft picks in recent years and brought them along slowly in an effort to replenish their defensive line. This year we will find out if the picks were spent wisely.
In this latest in the series of 93-7TheFan.com Exclusive Web Primers, Andrew Fillipponi will take a closer look at the Steelers’ defensive line.
Steve McLendon has developed and grown into a useful replacement at nose tackle for the great Casey Hampton who is 35 and still a free agent.
McLendon is undersized but has taken advantage of the opportunities given to him as Hampton declined in recent years. Alameda Ta’amu looks like he will be the backup for McLendon; however, Andrew doubts that he “will ever develop into anything worth the trouble” of his off-field rampage.
Brett Keisel continues to make impactful plays from the defensive end position as the oldest member of the defense, but this could be his final season.
Former first-round pick Ziggy Hood has worked hard but entering the last year of his rookie contract, it is time to “put up or shut up.”
Behind Hood, another former first-round pick, Cameron Heyward will be trying to force his way onto the field. The Steelers have to hope that both ends make progress this year so that a post-Keisel drop-off is not too severe.
Other names to watch on the defensive line in camp are Al Woods and draft pick Nick Williams who Andrew admits is raw but could make the roster in a special teams role.