If Steve McLendon feels any pressure stepping in and replacing nose tackle Casey Hampton in the starting lineup this year, he sure isn't showing it. Hampton, one of the best to play the position, wasn't re-signed this offseason and McLendon is calm as can be as he prepares to take over the job.
"I am approaching things like I have every other year, to prepare as a starter, get better every day," said McLendon. "Right now I just want to take it one day, one practice at a time and take the steps to get better as a player."
McLendon, in his fourth season, worked throughout the offseason to prepare for his new role, making sure he is in top physical condition to handle the rigors of being an every down player if needed.
"Whatever they allow me to play, I will," said McLendon. "I am willing to do anything to help this team win. I just have to do what the coaches ask of me. Whatever they ask, however many downs they want me to play, I have to listen and work hard. I have to play fast, play hard and play smart."
Defensive end Ziggy Hood, who is McLendon's roommate at camp and close friend, feels confident that he can get the job done.
"I expect great things, big things," said Hood. "He is a guy that can bring a lot to the table. Steve is going to do a great job. He is going to fill in and hold the spot down. It might take some time to adjust, but he is going to do a great job.
"He brings speed, energy and passion. When he speaks, you listen to him. He is going to be that leader in the future."
Hood and McLendon are constants in the team's weight room, working together and pushing each other daily. Hood sees all of the hard work now paying off for McLendon.
"He works hard," said Hood. "He is a guy that is always running. He is always going to be in shape. He is as strong as an ox. He is going to bring a lot to the table."
The last time wide receiver Plaxico Burress was a part of Steelers' training camp, Bill Cowher was the head coach. Burress said that Cowher and Mike Tomlin run different camps, but he has respect for the way both men do things.
"From a demeanor standpoint, from a coaching standpoint, you are talking about two totally different personalities," said Burress. "Coach Cowher drafted me here 14 camps ago. He is a father figure to me. He supported me, stayed in contact with me through all of the years.
"Coach Tomlin keeps it light around here. He doesn't put pressure on anybody, but when we are on the field, it's all work."