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Steelers’ Steve McLendon: I can play nose tackle at 280 pounds

Seattle Seahawks v Pittsburgh Steelers

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 18: Steve McLendon #90 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates his sack against the Seattle Seahawks during the game on September 18, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Seahawks 24-0. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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At 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds, Steve McLendon is not a small man. At least, he would not be a small man if he were something other than an NFL defensive tackle.

But as an NFL defensive tackle, he’s frequently described as “undersized.” And as a nose tackle in Pittsburgh, where they’re accustomed to Casey Hampton showing up to camp at 350 pounds or so, McLendon looks tiny.

McLendon, however, insists that he’s the right size for the job.

People may say I am not the classic nose tackle, but what is the classic nose tackle? Some nose tackles are big, some small,” McLendon told “If you look at Jay Ratliff for the Cowboys he is not a big nose tackle, but he plays very well. You look at Casey Hampton and he is a big nose tackle and plays well. I figure I will be in between. If I can move quick at nose and play strong at nose, it’s all going to work itself out for me.”

With Hampton likely to open the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list while he recovers from a torn ACL, McLendon is currently penciled in as the starting nose tackle in Pittsburgh. He says that’s a job he’s ready for.

“I want to be great,” McLendon said. “I have taken my work ethic to the next level. I am pushing myself every day. If the stars are where I want to reach, I need to reach past them. The expectations are really, really high. That should be of everybody in the Steelers organization. The expectation is to win the Super Bowl and be great.”

And McLendon is confident he can be great without being 300 pounds.