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Injuries may bring about the long-awaited activation of Dan McCullers

Steve McLendon missed the second half of Week 6 with a shoulder injury. If he can't play in Week 7, the Steelers may have to activate rookie and cult hero Dan McCullers for his first game this season.

Justin K. Aller

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has many things to address in his press conference, scheduled for noon Tuesday. Along with the standard statements of needing to adjust to things and play better, the injury status of nose tackle Steve McLendon will be a key point he'll make.

McLendon is quietly having himself a decent, if not spectacular, season. Along a defensive line that's been porous top to bottom, McLendon has done a reasonably good job to this point. But a shoulder injury kept him out of the entire second half in the team's loss to Cleveland in Week 6, and if he's unable to play against Houston in Week 7, the Steelers have some shuffling to do.

One such move could be the activation of fan and cult hero, rookie Dan McCullers.

While it would seem the initial plan is to start Cam Thomas at nose tackle and continue to rotate rookie Stephon Tuitt at defensive end, Thomas hasn't played well at all this season and, particularly during the second half against Cleveland, he struggled at nose tackle.

This wouldn't necessarily mean McCullers would go from game day Duce Staley Sweats to starter, but it wouldn't be a surprise if the Steelers have something of a plan in mind, considering how far their defense has fallen off during the last few weeks.

The natural argument fans will make is "what can it hurt?" Actually, starting a rookie against a good running team could hurt quite a lot. But so can starting Thomas against that same team. In a situation in which the Steelers face two unappealing options, they're more likely to go with the veteran. But if McLendon can't play, it would appear McCullers has a good chance to compete for a helmet this week in practice.