Can baseball drill help Steelers’ likely starting nose tackle?


In a recent feature on the Steelers’ website, Steve McLendon, who’s slated to replace Casey Hampton in the middle of the defensive line, detailed some of the workout routines he’s utilized from other sports in an attempt to make himself a better football player.

Among the particularly interesting sports mentioned were ballet and karate. But here’s the really fascinating drill McLendon has tried with a personal trainer in Atlanta: watching pitches at a batting cage and focusing on picking up the ball.

Here’s what McLendon said of his baseball work to

“I think baseball is the scariest sport ever. I have a lot of respect for those guys. I take my hat off to them. I got in the batting cage, well close to it, and was watching the ball coming. I thought how do these guys even see this ball?

“That is how I learned the eye coordination, though. By the time the ball is released, they know when the ball is going to get there. If I can learn to watch the ball it will slow the game down for me. You can see when the pitcher is going to grip the ball and his throw and windup.

“It’s the same with a center. You see him grip the ball, his windup is the snap. If I can catch his hand and am able to attack him, it will make me that much quicker and better applying pressure to the quarterback, running back and the offensive line.”

The 27-year-old McLendon has appeared in 36 regular-season games for Pittsburgh, primarily as a backup to Hampton, whom the Steelers have not re-signed. This leaves McLendon as the likely starter at nose tackle, a position Hampton played so well over the years.

The time in the batting cages could well help McLendon. And watching Hampton for the last several years probably hasn’t hurt, either.

14 responses to “Can baseball drill help Steelers’ likely starting nose tackle?

  1. McLendon did well in his limited snaps..why he didn’t get more was mind boggling. I’d rather see him take Hoods spot at DE

  2. Don’t like the Steelers, but I like this method.

    Makes a lot of sense. Get used t a rapid movement, and he can better time the snap.

    Pretty clever.

  3. Mcclendon is certainly different than hampton. Quicker, faster…he’s showed great promise. I only hope he can keep up the tradition of great NT play theyve had for the last decade

  4. I am sorry but at 6’4″ and 280+lbs ….

    To start getting that sharp is a scarey awesome position. Can you imagine if Reggie White or LT did this?

    Patches O’Houlihan” If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.”

  5. That is actually brilliant. If you can pick up a 98mph Matt Harvey fastball, you can see a blitz protection coming a mile away.

    I don’t care how fast a pulling guard or a fullback runs, I guarantee it isn’t in the mid-high 90s. I like athletes integrating other sports into their training.

    He should try standing behind Jonathan Quick or Hendrik Lundquist. Pucks fly at like 130mph.

    Not sure ballet is a sport though.

  6. Hate to see Hampton go, but McClendon is way too talented to be on the sideline for the Steelers.

  7. Guaranteed this guy jumps offsides a couple times each game until he realizes that Centers in the NFL get away with twitching their hands all the time.

    Want a good drill? You will never, ever be a martial artist or a dancer, so ignore the ballet and karate and push the blocking sled 10 miles a day.
    That’s what Nose Tackles do.

  8. Great idea. Maybe he should play for the Pirates since that’s his only chance of hooking up with a a winner.

  9. @greenmeattruck

    Are you aware that Lynn Swann studied ballet and credits his dancing experience for his athleticism?

    If ALL nose tackles do the same thing, then I’d much rather see him do something different. Doing the same as everyone else makes you perfectly average. It’s doing something different that makes you stand out.

    If someone said he was working on his reaction time, balance, and foot placement everyone would be praising him. Because of *how* he’s doing that he’s getting criticism.

    Ballet will improve his balance and body control. Martial arts will improve his understanding of how to manipulate joints and such to gain leverage on an opponent. Tracking pitches will improve his reaction time, awareness, and vision.

    I’m sure he still pushes the sled all day long as well, so I’d say it’s all good.

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