Steve McLendon becoming the brawny boldness of the Steelers defense

Justin K. Aller

NFL Network analyst and 2013 Hall of Fame class member Warren Sapp spouted off about the Steelers "old" defense again. The Steelers, for the first time in over a decade, have their own brash defensive tackle, who, ironically, seems to have Sapp's opinionated personality.

Like many (read: all) in Steeler Nation, I was at least a little annoyed reading Warren Sapp's recent comments, yet again, decrying the Steelers' defense do to age and speed.

I even did the typical story, pointing it out and cracking a few cheap (if not unfair) jokes about Sapp.

Looking back, what we have is a loudmouth defensive tackle, bold and brash, making the kind of opinion that will eventually be correct - like a broken clock being right twice a day.

Then, it dawns on me, the Steelers have their own budding brash defensive tackle, who's only starting to find himself on the subject end of a microphone and camera.

While Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon will be viewed largely as the opposite of Warren Sapp - inside the team, not outside, and never as disrespectful as he is - it appears the Steelers have their version of the cliche of the trash-talking defensive tackle.

It's weird to think about, considering Casey Hampton has anchored this position for over a decade, and didn't really appear to talk a whole lot of yang in the media. He didn't refer to himself in the third person, as McLendon has, either.

But ya know what? I like it.

In all the talk over the last two offseasons of transition and the changing of the guard in Pittsburgh, one thing has remained constant. Ryan Clark as been, more or less, the mouthpiece of the defense. Ike Taylor is a known talker as well, but he doesn't get the kind of attention Clark does.

There's just something more powerful when it's coming from a member of the front seven.

Kudos to Brett Keisel for sending the leadership message, as he has recently, and as he should. But a team still needs the swagger, the cockiness, to round out the bigger picture.

Maybe McLendon is mimicking that part of Sapp's game. It'd be tough to say Steeler Nation would be upset if McLendon mirrored Sapp's performance on the field even if the consequence was him talking trash off of it.

Stay tuned for the first time Sapp is talking about McLendon. It seems like those two are on a collision course.


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