Following a season in which the Steelers finished in the bottom third of the league in sacks, 2013 breakout defensive end Cam Hayward looks for Steve McLendon to have a bigger role, according to a report from ESPN reporter Scott Brown.
"I think our nose tackles have to be ready to play in the sub package this year," Heyward told Brown. "Steve can rush, Cam can rush, and we're looking for them to add more to this defense."
Traditionally, the Steelers nose tackles have been known more for their ability to stuff the run rather then rush the passer. The league is evolving however, the Steelers continued to utilize the sub packages more then ever last season, which is a trend that is likely to continue.
McLendon has often showed flashes of his pass rushing ability. If McLendon can realize his potential, and Heyward continues to grow beside him, the Steelers could be back among the leaders in sacks.
Veteran defensive end Brett Kiesel remains unsigned at the moment. In addition to Kiesel, the Steelers were unable to retain Ziggy Hood and Al Woods in free agency. Woods was often used in pass rushing situations next to Cam Heyward when the Steelers went to their sub packages last year.
With the lack of depth and experience on the defensive line , the time is now for McClendon to evolve into a leader on the defensive side of the ball.