OK, a mediocre season means there are no sacred cows. A record of 7-9 or 8-8 means the team has to look at everything. Of course, you know they do that anyway, that they're doing it all the time, but let's take a fan-side shot at it.
Where better to start than DT. If the core of the Steelers is defense, then the core of the defense is the DT position. In the 3-4 defense, the DT has to, has to eat up two blockers, to cover the linebackers and start creating numbers advantages somewhere else. So where are we at DT?
Casey Hampton, the Big Snack, was once an awesome DT. Ate space and men. Generated surprising pressure given the base space-eater responsibilities he had. But he has maybe none, maybe one season left.
McLendon showed extremely well in preseason, and looked good in regular season action to the untrained eye, and better than Hamp at getting penetration. The coaches have said very good things about him, but didn't play him very much. And, with their knowledge of his prospects, they saw fit to draft Ta'amu. What's the truth behind this fog of contradictory indicators? Is he the replacement or not?
Now to The Big Colosseum. He has real power, and some skills, but rumor says he doesn't like to practice. Then there was his tour of the town. It was shocking that the team didn't just part ways after that incident, particularly since it wasn't his first encounter with the drinking and driving laws. Does that mean they see a lot more there than we can? Does it mean they were helping him deal with some sort of underlying problems that warrant sympathy or another chance? Will he do time (probably yes)? Does he stay or go?
My initial take is keep Hampton as a backup, start McClendon and let Ta'amu go.