Steve McLendon injury: Steelers nose tackle injures left ankle, doubtful to return

Justin K. Aller

McLendon's absence would test the defensive flexibility of the Steelers. Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward split plays in McLendon's absence. Heyward, pushed the pocket and helped sack quarterback Jason Campbell two plays after McLendon left.

Update 1:50 p.m. ET: Kevin Harlan reported during the broadcast McLendon will not be back. He was examined in the locker room and that quick of a diagnosis cannot be seen as a good thing.

Update 1:46 p.m.: Steelers PR manager Burt Lauten Tweeted McLendon is doubtful to return. Al Woods is now in at nose tackle. Ziggy Hood is in for Brett Keisel at defensive end.

Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon went down on the last play of the first quarter with a left ankle injury. No status was immediately given as to his condition.

He's replaced by Ziggy Hood for a play, and Cameron Heyward for another play. Heyward combined with Jarvis Jones for a sack to force a punt.

McLendon has quietly had a decent season for the Steelers. Despite their average-or-worse level of run defense, McLendon has played his position well. For a team that's already experienced a tough blow in losing veteran LB Larry Foote in Week 1, the loss of McLendon is tough to fill on the fly.

Cleveland had the ball and was moving well until the sack. The Steelers and Browns are tied at three early in the second quarter. Pittsburgh moved well on their first drive, ending up with a field goal, and appear to be running the ball a bit better than expected against a good Browns defense.

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