NFL Nation: Steve McLendon

CINCINNATI -- The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without two starters today against the Cincinnati Bengals and rookie running back Dri Archer is among the five players who are healthy scratches for the 1 p.m. ET game.

Archer
Harrison
Harrison
Outside linebacker James Harrison will miss his first game since re-signing with the Steelers in September because of a knee injury. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert will miss his second consecutive game because of ankle and knee injuries.

Archer is the surprise on the Steelers’ seven-man inactives list as Pittsburgh will go with Josh Harris, who has yet to carry the ball in an NFL regular-season game, and fullback Will Johnson behind starting running back Le’Veon Bell.

Archer practiced all week and was not listed on the Steelers' final injury report last week. Not dressing Sunday is another step back for the third-round draft pick who lost his job as the primary kickoff returner earlier this season and has been a non-factor on offense.

Joining Archer as healthy scratches for the Steelers are wide receiver Justin Brown, cornerback B.W. Webb, defensive end Clifton Geathers and quarterback Landry Jones.

Linebacker Ryan Shazier will return to action after missing the last three games because of a high-ankle sprain. Nose tackle Steve McLendon is back after missing the last two games because of a bad shoulder.

Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones will play in his first game since dislocating his right wrist on Sept. 21 in a win at Carolina.
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers will continue to put a patchwork defense on the field Sunday when they visit the Cincinnati Bengals.

Starting outside linebacker James Harrison is doubtful for the 1 p.m. ET game after hurting his knee last Sunday. With Harrison expected to miss his first game since re-signing with the Steelers in September, the Steelers will likely go with a rotation of Arthur Moats and Jarvis Jones at right outside linebacker.

Harrison
Harrison
Jones is still on the injured reserve/designated to return list, but the Steelers are expected to activate the second-year man from that list, something that would probably happen Saturday.

Jones has been out since dislocating his right wrist in a Sept. 21 win at Carolina, but defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said Thursday there is a "good chance" that Jones plays against the Bengals.

The Steelers will be without a starter on the other side of the ball as right tackle Marcus Gilbert has been ruled out for Sunday because of an ankle injury. Gilbert, who said he is also dealing with a knee injury, will miss his second consecutive game and third one this season.

Mike Adams will start in his place at right tackle.

All of the other players on the Steelers’ final injury report of the week are listed as probable for the first of two games they will play against the AFC North-leading Bengals this month. That includes linebacker Ryan Shazier (ankle), nose tackle Steve McLendon (shoulder), and cornerback Cortez Allen (thumb).

The Bengals will be without Vontaze Burfict, their top linebacker, as he has been ruled out for Sunday because of a knee injury.

Steelers without RT Marcus Gilbert

November, 30, 2014
Nov 30
12:10
PM ET
PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert won't play Sunday -- as expected -- after injuring his ankle last week in practice.

Gilbert and linebacker Ryan Shazier are among the Steelers players who have been de-activated for Pittsburgh’s 1 p.m. ET game against the New Orleans Saints.

Mike Adams will start in place of Gilbert for the second time this season. Sean Spence and Vince Williams will play in place of Shazier at weakside inside linebacker.

Shazier, who had been questionable for today's game, will miss his third consecutive contest because of a high ankle sprain.

Starting nose tackle Steve McLendon (shoulder) and cornerback Cortez Allen (thumb) also won’t play today because of injuries.

The Steelers’ healthy scratches include wide receiver Justin Brown, cornerback B.W. Webb and quarterback Landry Jones.

The Film Don't Lie: Steelers

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
11:00
AM ET
A weekly look at what the Pittsburgh Steelers must fix:

Tennessee Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger looked like anything but a rookie in throwing for 263 yards and two touchdowns without taking a sack in a 27-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night.

Imagine what a seasoned quarterback like the New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees might do to the Steelers on Nov. 30 at Heinz Field following Pittsburgh’s bye week.

The Steelers did not consistently pressure Mettenberger, who was making his third start, even though they blitzed him often. He stepped up in the pocket with confidence and moved well in it even when the Steelers generated pressure from their outside linebackers.

The Steelers were credited with just five quarterback hurries against the Titans, and it’s not like they didn’t try to pressure Mettenberger. They sent five or more pass-rushers on 62.5 percent of Mettenberger’s dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information, their highest rate since a Dec. 19, 2011, loss at San Francisco.

The Steelers have to find a way to generate the kind of pass rush that consistently harassed the Indianapolis Colts' Andrew Luck and Baltimore Ravens' Joe Flacco in earlier wins.

The bye week provides extra time to heal for injured starters such as strong safety Troy Polamalu, linebacker Ryan Shazier and nose tackle Steve McLendon.

Getting Polamalu and Shazier back against the Saints would add speed and give Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau more flexibility as he tries to find a way to pressure Brees, who has been sacked just 13 times in 10 games.

The Steelers have to make Brees uncomfortable in the pocket by hitting him early and often.

If the perennial Pro Bowler gets as much time to throw as Mettenberger did Monday night, the Steelers may well have to win a shootout against a Saints team that is currently 4-6 but sure to play with a sense of urgency when it visits Pittsburgh.
PITTSBURGH -- Starting nose tackle Steve McLendon has been officially ruled out for the Pittsburgh Steelers' game against the Tennessee Titans on Monday night.

McClendon
McClendon
McLendon did not practice all week after aggravating a shoulder injury that caused the fourth-year veteran to miss two games this season.

Rookie Daniel McCullers is expected to make his first career start in place of McLendon, and it will be something off a homecoming for the 6-foot-7, 352-pounder McCullers.

He played his college ball at the University of Tennessee before the Steelers took McCullers with the second of two sixth-round draft picks in May.

It will be interesting to see how many snaps McCullers plays against the 2-7 Titans.

Defensive end Cam Thomas will probably also play nose tackle at Tennessee. The Steelers could also use their nickel package in which the nose tackle comes off the field more.

In addition to McLendon, safety Shamarko Thomas will miss a third consecutive game because of a hamstring injury.

The Steelers are expected to get safety Ross Ventrone back after he missed the 20-13 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday because of a hamstring injury. Ventrone, who had filled in for Thomas on special teams, practiced all week.

He is listed as probable on the Steelers’ final injury report of the week, as is cornerback Cortez Allen (thumb). Allen was limited in drills on Friday, but practiced fully on Saturday.

The Steelers will be without strong safety Troy Polamalu (knee), linebacker Ryan Shazier (ankle) and cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) against the Titans.

All were ruled out earlier this week.
PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier will start today against the Indianapolis Colts after missing the last four games with a sprained knee.

Shazier has been listed as probable on Pittsburgh's final injury of the week and his return should help the Steelers with tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener a prominent part of the Colts’ passing game.

The Steelers will be without one of the starters on their offensive line against the Colts, who are tied for third in the NFL with 21 sacks.

Right tackle Marcus Gilbert has been deactivated after suffering a concussion last Monday night in the Steelers’ 30-23 win over the Houston Texans. Mike Adams will make his first start of the season in place of Adams.

Joining Gilbert on the Steelers’ inactives list because of injuries are nose tackle Steve McLendon (shoulder), cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) and safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring).

Wide receiver Justin Brown, cornerback B.W. Webb and quarterback Landry Jones are the Steelers’ healthy scratches.

The Colts are without starting wide receiver Reggie Wayne (elbow) and Hakeem Nicks will start in his place. Running back Trent Richardson (hamstring) will play against the Steelers but the third-year man will be limited.

Ahmad Bradshaw will start in place of Richardson.
PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier did not practice on Wednesday, a curious development a day after coach Mike Tomlin said the rookie is "extremely close to returning" to action.

Shazier
Shazier practiced on a limited basis all of last week, and the Steelers allowed him to test his right knee Monday night before deactivating the first-round pick for their game against the Houston Texans.

Shazier, who has missed the past four games because of a sprained knee, was held out of the Steelers' first practice of the week along with right tackle Marcus Gilbert (concussion) and nose tackle Steve McLendon (shoulder).

Safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) and cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) were limited participants in practice.

Thomas has missed the past two games, but Tomlin said the second-year man is also close to returning. Taylor took part in some drills for the first time since breaking his forearm in the Steelers' 37-19 win against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 21.
PITTSBURGH -- Wide receiver Martavis Bryant and nose tackle Daniel McCullers will each dress for their first NFL game when the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Houston Texans tonight at 8:30 ET.

Bryant takes the game-day roster spot of Justin Brown, who is inactive for the first time this season. McCullers, who is also a rookie, is dressing with starting nose tackle Steve McLendon out because of a shoulder injury.

The Steelers will wait another week to bring back Ryan Shazier, who has been out since spraining his right knee in a Sept. 21 game.

Shazier, who ran on the field before the game and tested his knee under the watchful eye of trainers John Norwig, joins McLendon, cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) and Shamarko Thomas on the Steelers’ inactives list because of injuries.

The Steelers' three healthy scratches are Brown, quarterback Landry Jones and guard Chris Hubbard.

Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney will miss his sixth consecutive game because of a right knee injury. Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2014 NFL draft, tested his knee before the game but the Texans will err on the side of caution.
PITTSBURGH -- Knee injuries likely won’t prevent Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Mike Mitchell and defensive end Brett Keisel from playing Monday night against the Houston Texans.

Mitchell and Keisel are listed as probable for the 8:30 p.m. ET game at Heinz Field in the Steelers’ final injury report of the week.

Starting inside linebacker Ryan Shazier is listed questionable after missing the past three games because of a sprained right knee.

Safety Shamarko Thomas will miss his second consecutive game because of a hamstring injury. Starting nose tackle Steve McLendon (shoulder) and cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) were declared out at the beginning of the week.

Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney is listed as questionable. The No. 1 overall pick of the 2014 NFL draft has missed the past five games after having early season knee surgery.

Texans coach Bill O’Brien has said Clowney will be a game-time decision.
PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel and starting safety Mike Mitchell did not practice on Thursday, but inside linebacker Ryan Shazier participated in drills on a limited basis for the second consecutive day.

Keisel
Keisel
Mitchell
Keisel and Mitchell are working their way back from knee injuries, and the latter said on Wednesday that he plans on playing Monday night against the Houston Texans.

Starting nose tackle Steve McLendon (shoulder) and cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) have already been ruled out for the 8:30 p.m. ET game at Heinz Field.

In addition to Keisel and Mitchell, fullback Will Johnson did not practice on Thursday because of an illness. Strong safety Troy Polamalu was given a veteran’s day off.

Shazier, who has missed the past three games with a sprained knee, is still limited as he tries to work his work way back to the field.

Strong safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) and defensive end Cameron Heyward (ankle) were also limited in practice. Heyward has said he will play against the Texans.

In Houston, linebackers Jadeveon Clowney (knee), Brian Cushing (knee), and Brooks Reed (groin) did not practice because of injuries. Cornerback Darryl Morris (ankle) also missed drills.

Running back Arian Foster (groin), wide receiver Andre Johnson (ankle), cornerback Johnathan Joseph (knee) and linebackers Mike Mohamed (calf) and Jeff Tarpinian (knee) all practiced on a limited basis.
PITTSBURGH -- A Pittsburgh Steelers defense that is reeling after giving up four touchdowns and 360 yards after the first quarter in a 31-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns is also banged up.

McLendon
Starting nose tackle Steve McLendon won’t play Monday night against the visiting Houston Texans because of a sprained shoulder. Starting free safety Mike Mitchell (knee) and defensive end Brett Keisel (knee) will be monitored this week in practice, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said, putting their participation Monday in question.

Keisel said after the loss to the Browns that he will be fine.

Rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier (knee) and strong safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) will practice in some capacity this week, Tomlin said.

Shazier, who has missed the Steelers’ last three games, practiced on a limited basis last week. There is an outside chance the first-round pick could play against the Texans.

If Shazier is unable to play Monday night, the Steelers will be missing at least four starters on defense.

With McLendon out, rookie nose tackle Daniel McCullers is likely to dress for his first game.

Defensive end Cameron Heyward hurt his ankle late in the loss to the Browns but is expected to be OK. Heyward was furious after getting chop blocked by Cleveland left tackle Joe Thomas, and after the game the fourth-year veteran said it is “cowardly” for teams to chop block.

Tomlin said Thomas’ block was a legal one even though Heyward got hurt on the play.

“He was upset, but I think his anger had to do with how the game was going as well,” Tomlin said Tuesday.
CLEVELAND -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Pittsburgh Steelers' 31-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
  • Wallace
    Brown
    The question caused wide receiver Antonio Brown to pause, but he still delivered a diplomatic answer following a disappointing loss. The Steelers ran the ball early and often Sunday and targeted Brown just three times in the first half. The two-time Pro Bowler finished with seven catches for 118 yards. Asked if he should have been more of a focal point in the game plan because of his past success against Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden, Brown said, “We’re just trying to find a way to win. It’s not about individual matchups.”
  • Defensive end Cameron Heyward didn’t hide his anger in the visiting locker room at FirstEnergy Field, and not just because the Steelers had been embarrassed by one of their archrivals. Heyward was still fuming at getting chop-blocked several times. Late in the fourth quarter, Heyward hurt his ankle and angrily pointed at Browns left tackle Joe Thomas several times as he walked off the field. Heyward did not sustain a significant injury, but that's beside the point, the fourth-year veteran said. "It's a dirty play,” Heyward said of chop-blocking. "We talk so much about safety. We don’t do a good job of keeping it safe for everybody. I think it’s cowardly thing, but if [the Browns are] going to coach it like that, that's their call.”
  • Defensive end Brett Keisel and free safety Mike Mitchell each sprained his knee against the Browns, but neither injury is believed to be serious. “I’ll be fine,” Keisel said. That each player conducted postgame interviews is a strong indication neither is seriously hurt. Nose tackle Steve McLendon sprained his right shoulder in the second half and did not return to the game. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Keisel, Mitchell and McLendon are still being evaluated.

Big Ben says he may be underappreciated

September, 13, 2014
Sep 13
12:00
PM ET
The timing of former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher's interview with Ben Roethlisberger was not ideal since the veteran quarterback did not play particularly well in a 26-6 loss at the Baltimore Ravens.

But Roethlisberger had some interesting things to say in the NFL Network interview that aired prior to the Steelers-Ravens game Thursday night.

Cowher
Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger told Cowher that he does not feel as if he has gotten the recognition he deserves for playing in three Super Bowls and winning two in his first 10 years in the NFL.

"But I think the Pittsburghers appreciate me. I think that it's going to be one of those things when I'm done playing people will look back and say, 'Wow, he was a lot better than we gave him credit for,'" Roethlisberger said. "I've won two Super Bowls, I've been to three. There are a lot of greats that have never been and have never won. I'm just going to continue giving everything I have and try and get back and when another one."

The Steelers are coming off consecutive 8-8 seasons and have looked like anything but a playoff team through the first two weeks of the season.

Roethlisberger represents the biggest hope the Steelers have of re-establishing themselves as Super Bowl contenders. If that doesn't happen it won't be because of a perception of a strained relationship with offensive coordinator Todd Haley, the veteran quarterback said.

"People made a big deal about us not liking each other or getting along -- that wasn't it at all. It's just a new transition thing," Roethlisberger said. "Now I think that we're starting to really understand each other. I think that things are going well."

Here are a few odds and ends with the Steelers off until Monday:
  • The Steelers were determined not to give up the deep ball against the Ravens, but at what cost? The Steelers held Ravens deep threat Torrey Smith to one catch for 10 yards last Thursday night and Joe Flacco's longest completion was 24 yards. That came on a pass to tight end Dennis Pitta in the middle of the field where the Ravens exploited a defense that wanted to keep everything in front of it. "I know I worked hard this week staying deep," Steelers free safety Mike Mitchell said. "Coach [Carnell] Lake worked with me a lot playing everything top down so we had a lot of great coverages. Our corners did a great job of staying on top. We forced [the Ravens] to check it down."
  • The Steelers came out of the Ravens game in relatively good shape from an injury standpoint. Nose tackle Steve McLendon hurt his shoulder but coach Mike Tomlin said that was the only the potentially significant injury that the Steelers sustained.
  • Tomlin did not buy into the thinking that a lost fumble by wide receiver Justin Brown on the opening possession set the tone for the mistake-prone Steelers against the Ravens. "It's a game of 60 minutes," Tomlin said. "The outcome of the game's not going to be defined in the initial moments of the game, whether it's positive or negative."
PITTSBURGH -- Mike Tomlin did not have to review film from the 31-21 loss at Philadelphia on Thursday night to identify one of the many areas where the Pittsburgh Steelers came up short following their trip across the state.

Shazier
McLendon
“In a nutshell not enough guys coming off blocks and making tackles,” the Steelers coach said. “Defensive football is very simple at times. It’s about defeating blocks and making tackles.”

The Steelers did not do nearly enough of that against the Eagles.

And they have been lacking in that critical component of defense the entire preseason.

The Eagles gashed the Steelers for 182 rushing yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. They were still able to run the ball at will even after LeSean McCoy left the game after the second series with a thumb injury.

And the Eagles’ success on the ground was not an aberration.

The Steelers have given up 4.8 yards per carry in three games. What is troubling about that is they yielded 115.6 rushing yards per game last season, so it’s not like the Steelers can expect to just begin stopping the run once the games start counting.

“I think this humbled us,” starting nose tackle Steve McLendon said. “We’re going to watch film, we’re going to correct it and we’re going to get better from this.”

Ryan Shazier echoed similar sentiments after the rookie inside linebacker didn’t play nearly as well as he had last Saturday night in his NFL debut.

“We were feeling pretty good coming in and but [the loss] really showed us that we have to get back in the office and keep working,” Shazier said. “It will humble us a little bit.”

A review of the film from the loss should give the Steelers a better idea of what they need to clean up.

It should also heighten the urgency in practice this week even though the starters will be sparingly if at all Thursday night against the visiting Carolina Panthers in the final preseason game.

“We have to play for the team. We have to play for each other,” McLendon said. “We can’t let this distract us from our goal. We all know what the common goal is.”

They also know that the Steelers have no chance at that goal -- competing for a seventh Super Bowl title -- if they can’t do something as basic as stopping the run.
PITTSBURGH -- Well, that didn't take long.

The ink had barely dried on the two-year contract that Brett Keisel signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wednesday when he vaulted to the top of the depth chart at right defensive end.

Keisel
Keisel
The signing of Keisel led to several changes on a depth chart that coach Mike Tomlin said he pays scant attention to during the preseason.

Keisel is back at the position where he has started since 2006 with Stephon Tuitt, Nick Williams and Ethan Hemer listed behind him. Cameron Heyward is the starter at left defensive end with Cam Thomas, Brian Arnfelt and Josh Mauro listed behind him.

Prior to the re-signing of Keisel, Heyward had been the starter at right defensive end with Thomas the starter at left defensive end and Tuitt behind Thomas.

Keisel made the trip with the Steelers Wednesday afternoon to Philadelphia, but he is not expected to suit up for the Steelers' 7:30 p.m. ET game against the Eagles Thursday night.

What is clear is the Steelers did not bring back "Da Beard" to play a limited number of snaps and mentor their young defensive linemen.

Heyward has been practicing at right defensive end but he should be fine moving back to the position where he emerged as a starter last season. The fourth-year veteran has said there is not much difference in playing right and left defensive end.

Thomas appears to lose the most with Keisel back.

He is now relegated to the Al Woods role of swing defensive end/nose tackle. Thomas, however, also provides injury insurance at nose tackle and could push Steve McLendon there if the latter struggles this season.

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