Steelers NT Steve McLendon should be plenty motivated this season.
A highly underrated cog of last year's top-ranked scoring defense, most media pundits point to two things regarding the Steelers' defensive line in 2012; the health of Casey Hampton (whom McLendon replaced for much of last season) and the 4th round selection of NT Alameda Ta'amu (the guy McLendon is likely to beat out for Week 1 starting honors).
SB Nation's Ryan Van Bibber is the latest to forget about McLendon, as he ranked the Steelers' defensive line 15th in his running feature on top positional rankings in the NFL.
Among McLendon's fans are his position coach, Johnny Mitchell, and Pro Bowl C Maurkice Pouncey, who told Steel City Insider's Jim Wexell McLendon is "probably just as good as (Hampton)."
As Hampton continues his rehabilitation from a torn ACL suffered in January, McLendon remains poised to occupy the starting position. Defensive ends Ziggy Hood and Brett Keisel are likely the starting defensive ends, with Cameron Heyward providing depth.
Granted, the Steelers' front three does not compare - right now - to San Francisco's power unit, but as many fans will argue, no one's team should have a defensive positional unit rank in the middle teens when that defense led the NFL in scoring.
It's up to them to prove it wrong.