From Steve Burnett: What have you learned playing behind Casey Hampton?
Steve McLendon: I don’t know where to start. I have learned so much. The biggest thing was learning to be confident in your play. He is a great leader, a great guy. He has so much talent. He is a Hall of Fame type of player. He was the big brother I never had. I learned so much on and off the field.
From Paul Jamison: Are you ready to step in and be the Steelers’ starting nose tackle?
Steve McLendon: If the Steelers think I am ready, I am ready. I have confidence in my ability to get the job done and more. The opportunity has presented itself and now it’s up to me to go out and do it.
From Mike Mazanowski: Do you see any similarities between your playing style and Casey Hampton's playing style? How is your game different than Casey's?
Steve McLendon: The only thing that is similar is power and strength. What makes us different is he is heavier than I am. He can hold double teams better than I can. But I feel like I am quicker, but his reaction is better. The height is different and he is smarter at the game than I am. But I am trying to accomplish everything he did.
From Joey Barnes: Do you feel pressure to be the next great Steelers nose tackle?
Steve McLendon: I am glad there is pressure. I am going to apply pressure. The best way to handle pressure is to apply it. It’s an honor to have that pressure on me because I have the opportunity to play in the NFL.
From Don Ryan: What is the biggest challenge for you this offseason?
Steve McLendon: It would be my training and trying to get stronger in my legs. I already have great upper body strength. I am trying to get great lower body strength like Casey. Plus I want to learn as much as possible. When I step on the field there should be no excuses, no explanations, just go out there and play at 100 percent and play hard.
From Toby Brandt: Have you changed your offseason preparation, started earlier, or doing anything different this year with starting a strong possibility?
Steve McLendon: I did. I started looking at other sports to help me with my play, like baseball for eye coordination, ballet for balance. There are some other sports I watch. Just taking little things I can apply to my game. I am trying to eat better, condition myself more. If we have a 12-play drive, I want to be able to play all 12 plays. I am not going to be selfish and stay on the field, but I want to be in that shape that I can keep playing at a high level.
From Deb Miller: What is Coach John Mitchell like to play for? I have watched him while at training camp and he seems very high energy?
Steve McLendon: He is a great guy to play for. The biggest thing Coach Mitchell wants is a guy who gives it his all. He wants to see you are learning, understand it and are giving an effort. Effort is big with Coach Mitchell.
From Larry Era: How tough was it to deal with finishing last season 8-8 and not in the playoffs?
Steve McLendon: It was tough for me because I know the reputation of the Steelers. We are used to going to the playoffs, AFC Championship and Super Bowls. When the season ended and I was watching Baltimore play, I was thinking this is supposed to be us. I texted all of the young guys and told them this will be the last year we are sitting at home for the playoffs. We are pushing each other and getting ready.
From Neil Cole: Do you sense this team has more drive, more passion after missing out on the playoffs last year?
Steve McLendon: The drive is really there. You saw it with how many guys came back for offseason workouts. Guys are really taking it seriously. That is the biggest thing. Guys are holding themselves accountable for their actions. We weren’t hitting on all keys like we should have, or playing the best technique. But I feel like guys are being accountable now and getting things corrected so when the season starts we are ready to play.
From Greg Moore: What was it like to watch your bitter rivals, the Baltimore Ravens, win the Super Bowl?
Steve McLendon: I am not that type of guy, so congratulations to them. But it also hurts because we beat them and then they went on a winning streak and won. It hurts for us, but congratulations to them.