While the comparison may appear a bit of a stretch considering the men involved played two different positions on the field, Steelers Digest editor Bob Labriola sees similarities between a former defensive player of the year and a 2012 practice squad player.
McFadden finds himself competing against Stevenson Sylvester and rookie Vince Williams for the right to backup starters Lawrence Timmons and Larry Foote at inside linebacker this season. McFadden failed to pass the veteran Sylvester last season, winding up on the practice squad; but as head coach Mike Tomlin often reminds us all, 'last year was last year'.
McFadden took advantage of the technicality which made him eligible to re-attend the rookie orientation weekend this off-season. Unlike the true rookies who surrounded him, he had the benefit of his previous year's experience to shed extra light on the information being presented, using the weekend as a refresher course in preparation for the upcoming season.
Apparently, McFadden's refresher course has allowed him to compete this year without having to over-think his responsibilities in the defense and special teams, something he hoped the re-orientation would allow him to do. He began showing flashes even during OTAs, leaving many to speculate about his performance being a primary reason for the team's shifting of Sylvester to outside linebacker for practice reps.
Although it has yet to be seen whether the team will view him as a 'Mack' or 'Buck' linebacker, if his knowledge of the defense can match the ferocity of his performance thus far, McFadden could wind up a key member of the final 53-man roster.
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