When McLendon was being groomed to take over for the perennial veteran, Casey Hampton, he had a burst that was much different from the Hampton that allowed him to shed blockers and make plays in the backfield. Last season, fans rarely got a glimpse of that player, and a large part was due to his weight.
"Trying to get ready to play multiple positions last year, I wanted to be in the best shape possible." "I knew the way I lost the weight probably wasn't the healthiest way, just running and running it off. I felt I ran myself into the ground because of just being nervous about being a starter and all the new things that come with it." McLendon told Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider.
McLendon, who usually sports 330 pounds, cut down to 308 pounds before the start of the season, and a lot of the weight he lost was muscle needed to play the nose tackle position effectively in the Steelers' 3-4 scheme, "I lost my strength." "I could move quick but I couldn't hold those guys off the linebackers and that's what we're known for." McLendon said.
McLendon is weighing 330 pounds now, and feels he is in a better place physically than he was last season at this time, "I feel much stronger and so much more powerful. And I feel fast with it."
The Steelers need McLendon to be that rock in the 3-4 defense that is so crucial to the overall scheme and success of the defense. With additions of players like Cam Thomas and Daniel McCullers, the Steelers now have some versatile defensive linemen that can play multiple positions, and hopefully improve a very porous Steelers rush defense in 2014.