The Pittsburgh Steelers are depending on Steve McLendon to fill the massive hole left by the departed Casey Hampton, but who will back McLendon up is still a question left unanswered. Originally, it was thought to be last year's fourth-round pick Alameda Ta'amu, but he is currently on the PUP list with a hamstring pull. As he recovers, enter the name Hebron Fangupo into the ring.
Fangupo, who went undrafted in 2012 despite being an alleged draft target of the Steelers, spent his first NFL training camp with the Houston Texans only to get cut. He was signed to the practice squad of the Seattle Seahawks on September 12th, only being promoted to the active squad for one contest and then was cut again. Prior to Pittsburgh's final regular season game, Fangupo was picked up by the Steelers.
Few really expected Fangupo to be much competition with the drafted Ta'amu, despite the draft-pick's rookie struggles with not only the playbook, but with the law as well. However, Fangupo has no plans on going lightly.
With Ta'amu out, Fangupo filled in at NT today in the team's first padded practice of the off-season. While he didn't draw direct recognition from the sidelines, the fruits of his labor did. He faced off against undrafted center Joe Madsen out of West Virginia University, tossing the rookie aside like a rag doll. Head coach Mike Tomlin was moved enough to shout, 'Have some dignity, Joe!'.
It's still a month until the regular season begins, and Ta'amu will be looking to make his own presence known when he is healthy enough to return; but Fangupo is the one making the most of every opportunity in the present. If he can exhibit the same will and determination against seasoned vets like he did Madsen, Fangupo may just wind up locking down a full-time job.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- Steelers Marshall McFadden drawing James Harrison comparisons
- Rookie Le'Veon Bell consumes majority of attempts at Steelers training camp
- Steelers Jonathan Dwyer transitions from fat kid to 'grown man'
- Steelers linebacker coach Butler praises LaMarr Woodley's conditioning
- Video: Steelers defensive line faces "prove it" year
- Conditioning drills unfairly single out the "big men"
- Steelers rookie Terry Hawthorne back on the field
- Training Camp Recap Day 3: One session only on Sunday